Albion striker Neal Maupay has revealed Dean Smith is one of the main reasons why he is where he is now.

Smith brought Maupay over to England in 2016 when he was managing at Brentford in the Championship.

The 23-year-old says he learnt a lot from the Villa manager against whose side he will play today.

Maupay said: “When I came here I had no idea about English football and he showed me a lot of things on the pitch and off the pitch on video.

“With him I became a better player, a better striker, my ability to score is better now.

“I tried to learn the game, the movement, how the defenders are on the pitch, if I need to drop, if I need to go deep.

The Argus:

“It was a good two years with him and he is a big part of where I am now.”

Prior to Maupay moving to Albion, there were numerous reports linking him with a move to Villa Park.

The Frenchman said: “I had a really good time at Brentford with him (Smith), I was scoring a lot of goals and I had a good relationship with him.

“This summer there was talks about me going to Villa, but this is just how football works and I am here now and I am really happy here.”

Maupay and Smith will go head to head this afternoon when Albion take on Villa, with the striker looking to be a thorn in his former boss’ side. He cannot wait for the game.

He said: “He is a good manager, we did good work together at Brentford and then he left for Villa.

“He has done good work there as he taken them to the Premier League. I am excited for the game.”

Both Smith and Albion head-coach Graham Potter like to play attacking football and Maupay says there is similarities between the two.

He said: “In terms of football, they both like to play even if it is a different way to play football, but their personalities are similar in their relationship with players.

“They are managers who you can talk to at any time, they are always open for that.

“Both of them bring smiles to their team’s faces.

“When you went out there when I was at Brentford we were happy to train with Dean and that is the same here with Graham.

“If you just go out there everyone is happy to train, to work hard for him and I think they are quite similar.”

One player who Maupay could be up against this afternoon is Ezri Konsa.

The 21-year-old centre-back played with Maupay last season at Brentford, before moving to Aston Villa this summer to reunite with Smith and Albion’s frontman talked about much potential his ex-colleague has.

He said: “He (Konsa) is a really good player, I only played with him for one year, but he is a really good defender.

“He is only 21, he will improve and become better. But he is really good defender that is why he left Brentford to go to Villa, so I am excited to play against him.”

Albion have had a bit of an up and down start to the season, but Maupay says the squad are all behind what head coach Potter has been trying to do.

He said: “We try our best to do what our manager wants, we are all behind him and all really like what he is doing here.

“It is not easy to build a new team, a new philosophy in a short space of time.

“We know it will take time but as long as we stay together and believe in each other, believe in what the manager wants we will be fine.

“We are improving even if the results are not what we wanted from the start, but the way we play is really good and we need to keep working like that.”

Maupay has now played eight games in the Premier League, scoring three goals, but does he feel he is adapting to playing in the top flight?

He said: “I think so but I am still learning a lot of things every day. It is not easy to discover another league, another team but I think I am doing well.

“I try my best I work hard every day and I think that time will help me to get better.”

Albion go into the game against Villa fresh from an international break. They beat Tottenham 3-0 at the Amex and Maupay thinks both he and Connolly surprised Spurs.

He said: “They didn’t really know me and they didn’t really know Aaron as well, so when we started the game we were running in behind, fighting for the second ball, always pressing them and they were surprised and not ready for that.

“Aaron and I are not big like Glenn (Murray) we are players that can go into the space.

“It’s hard to say as Glenn and I we fit well together because he is big and can keep the ball and I can run in behind.

“I played with Aaron against Spurs. I think we did well on coming short and going in behind.

“It’s a different way to play, a different system and we just need to adapt.”

Maupay also spoke about how much belief beating Spurs gave Albion that they can get results against the top six sides.

He said: “We were all frustrated because we had been feeling like we were playing well apart from in one or two games where we didn’t get the result we wanted.

“It was hard for us and that result came at a good time for us, it gives us a lot of confidence and shows us that we can beat the top teams in this league.

“It is good for the players, the staff and for the fans, but that was just one game. We need to keep pushing, keep working hard if we want to win more often.”

The next target is success victories. Maupay will have no qualms if the second comes against his old boss.