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Jan 21, 2013

Lambert slams 'disrespectful' vicar

Ahead of their clash in the Capital One Cup semi-final second-leg against Bradford, Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has hit out at alleged comments from the Bantams' stadium announcer, vicar Paul Deo.

• Blog: Villa chase Cup comeback

Villa lost 3-1 at Valley Parade and, in the aftermath of the first-leg victory, Deo suggested Bradford fans consider booking hotel rooms for the final at Wembley next month.

Lambert, however, was told that Deo had said the Bradford fans should 'book your hotels' for the final and insisted that his side would go out to right the ''disrespectful'' comments.

"I never heard that," he said. "But we'll see what happens. If he said that, then maybe it's a bit disrespectful. You don't count your chickens. Football's got a great habit of kicking you somewhere.

"It's disrespectful to do that. We'll see what happens after the game. Maybe you can understand him getting carried away, because it was their big moment. It was their home game. But it's disrespectful to do that to other teams.''

Lambert was speaking before he knew Deo's identity and it was later revealed by the Guardian that he is the vicar of Heworth Christ Church, in York, and has been Bradford's club chaplain since 2009.

Denying any disrespect in his comments, and disputing the wording in which they were put to Lambert, Deo told the paper: "There was absolutely no disrespect meant. It was never meant to sound like some sort of jibe, and there was no intention to be in any way smug or over confident.

"I certainly did not say 'book your hotels'. What I said was that, though it was only 'half-time' in the semi-final tie and it was far from over, Bradford fans 'could be forgiven for having a look at hotel rooms in London'.

"It was certainly not intended to be in any way disrespectful to Aston Villa, to Paul Lambert, or to Villa's staff, players or fans. If it came over that way, then I can only apologise. But there was certainly nothing like that deliberately intended.''

Meanwhile, Bradford's joint chairman Mark Lawn knows that his side have captured the country's imagination and hopes that they can continue their winning run all the way to Wembley.

"It's been incredible,'' he said. "You've got to look at where we've come from, where we are in the league. The effort has been amazing. The backroom staff and the cleaning ladies down at the training ground, I'd like to say a big thank you from the fans and the club.

"It's been beyond our wildest dreams. A very close friend of mine who sat next to me in the first leg said the return at Villa Park is our Wembley final. That's the way I'll be approaching it. My head says anything else is a bonus.''

Bradford's only major honour was achieved back in 1911, when they beat Newcastle 1-0 in an FA Cup final replay at Old Trafford after a goalless draw at Crystal Palace.

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