By Keith Hackett

14th Sep, 2021 | 12:01pm

Ex-Premier League referee 'wowed' by Dean after Aston Villa podcast reveal

Keith Hackett has heaped praise on Mike Dean after it was revealed he jokingly claimed an assist for Watford against Aston Villa.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-FIFA and Premier League referee insisted Dean should continue to show his personality while officiating.

Speaking to the Happy Hour Podcast, Ben Foster claimed Dean ran past Tom Cleverley after a Watford goal in their 3-2 win over Villa on the opening day and said “Assist for Mike Dean”.

The 53-year-old played advantage when both x and Cleverley were fouled in quick succession before the ball broke to y who finished with an excellent strike from the edge of the box.

Asked for his assessment of Dean’s comment, Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “Often we’re not privy to the conversations. They are human beings.

“I can remember, I think it was Mike Read, a Birmingham referee, who got suspended because he applied a superb advantage and was then holding his arm aloft to sort of say ‘Wow, what a great decision’.

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“Mike Dean’s comment is amusing. Let’s not rid ourselves of this from the game.

“As a young referee I was constantly chatting to players ‘That’s a great pass’. ‘Be careful with that challenge, it’s a bit iffy’. They might say ‘Come on ref, you’re not having a great game’. And I’d say ‘Hold on, you’ve missed two sitters, mate’.

“This is part of the game at the top level and I think it’s quite witty, I like it. It’s Mike Dean’s personality and what’s wrong with it?

“The art of communication is a facet of refereeing. It’s part of the process to be human.”

In other news, Dean Smith is under big pressure at Aston Villa as the manager masterplan revealed.