Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has laughed off the furore surrounding Gabriel Agbonlahor’s challenge on One Direction star Louis Tomlinson, hoping to draw a line under the incident.
Agbonlahor received death threats after he produced a heavy—but totally fair—tackle on the singer of the globally popular boy band.
Lambert, though, preferred to make light of the incident, which later saw Tomlinson vomit. Mat Kendrick of the Birmingham Mail provides the quotes:
If you’re telling me that’s what happened, then I don’t know if a threat from a teenage girl is much of a threat.
I had a laugh and a joke with him, but other than that I don’t get involved. It’s nothing for me. It’s not for Gabby either. The wee lad was really nice.
Lambert is keen to protect the speedster from any off-field distraction as Villa prepare to take on Newcastle, hoping to end a run of two straight defeats.
Agbonlahor’s challenge on Tomlinson, which took place during a charity match in tribute to former midfielder Stiliyan Petrov, sparked a furious reaction from “Directioners,” clearly upset to see the singer in distress.
However, Lambert risked directing the wrath of band followers his way by pointing out football is a contact sport, per Neil Moxley of the Daily Mail.
There was nothing in it … It’s a contact sport, regardless of whether it’s a friendly. There was nothing in it. The lad from One Direction was really good about it.
I don’t know whether Gabby is going to speak to him. You are taking someone out of their comfort zone. He’s a singer and you’re putting him into a football environment. Footballers can do these sorts of things.
Agbonlahor may have a new team-mate to link up with at the weekend, with Czech Republic striker Libor Kozak in line for his Villa debut following a Sept. 2 switch from Italy.
Lambert is likely to stick with Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann as his first-choice attack, but Kozak offers a different option from the bench.
He scored 10 goals in the Europa League to finish as the competition’s top scorer last term and has penned a four-year deal at Villa Park.