With the most lucrative game in English football this weekend, the Aston Villa coach reveals how his family has privately dealt with the impact prostate cancer has had on his father – the former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence – and why the play-offs are the best way to go up.
Aston Villa are just one game away from promotion, with a win against Fulham in the Championship play-off finals on Saturday that would end their two-year struggle to return to the Premier League. But for Villa's first-team coach, Stephen Clemence, there's been another, far more personal struggle behind the scenes.
His father, the former England and Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence, has been continuing to undergo treatment for advanced prostate cancer that was first diagnosed in 2005.
"He’s been through a hell of a lot," said Stephen. "He’s a strong, strong man and everybody says how well he looks. But it has been tough on him mentally.
"There are times I go down at the weekend after games and I can see he’s not quite right. He wouldn’t show that to the general public but me and my mum, my sisters and my wife – we see that. And it’s our job to try and pick him up."
Ray and Stephen share their story about the effects prostate cancer has had on them and their families in a revealing interview for our next Insights magazine, which is out in August. Before then, father and son are both hoping Aston Villa will be celebrating play-off success.
"It’s a difficult experience for the players," said Stephen, who also took Hull City up through the Championship play-offs with manager Steve Bruce in 2016. "We’ll have them prepared properly, but they’ve got to go on the pitch and handle all the tension that comes with the final.
"It’s definitely a great occasion to be involved in, and if we do go up, it’s the best way to go up."