Striped had proved mightier than hoops, and the victorious manager was holding court to discuss how the derby was won.

As Thomas Frank went through the superlatives, an interpreter was on hand to convey his enthusiasm for Brentford ’s convincing eclipse of neighbours Queen’s Park Rangers .

But this was not an exercise in condensing a manager’s fulsome answers into shorthand, as so often happens with Premier League coaches who can’t be bothered to learn English.

Like most Danes, Frank speaks better English than many people born and bred in the Brexit Isles.

The blur of fingers and thumbs was a unique statement of inclusion by the Bees – perhaps ­unfashionable on the pitch, but standard-bearers for diversity in west London – ­because it was the first known case of a manager’s debriefing being transmitted in sign language.

Frank’s audience, which included deaf youngsters promoting British Sign Language (BSL) as part of the EFL-backed Level Playing Field campaign, loved it.



Brentford boss Thomas Frank

Subtitles are nothing new at the cinema, and we’ve all stumbled across news programmes on TV with a juxtaposed sign language ­interpreter in one corner of the screen.

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But football, never the quickest industry to grasp the finer points of inclusivity, has not always gone out of its way to make deaf people feel like part of the family. And we could do without some of the modern sign language infecting the game – ­notably the odious waving of ­imaginary cards by playground snitches trying to get opponents sent off.

So praise where it’s due to ­Brentford and Ben Lampert, the only full-time deaf football coach in Britain, whose work with the club’s Community Sports Trust is ­grass-roots gold.

Lampert, 33, has worked with the Bees’ trust for nine years after ­winning ‘Deaflympics’ gold and ­European Championship silver medals in his 60-cap career as a left winger with Great Britain’s deaf team over 15 years.

He is currently England’s ­assistant coach as they prepare for the Deaf Euros in Crete this summer, but Lampert says his work with ­hundreds of children, from Brent to Richmond, is his proudest ­achievement.

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Brentford captain Romaine Swayers signs to Lampert

It was Lampert’s idea to give Frank the full BSL treatment and he said: “Growing up, I had to adapt and fit into sports sessions, rather than the sessions being adapted to suit me.

“I got involved with Brentford’s Community Sports Trust so I could break down the barriers I faced as a child and to ensure that sport can be enjoyed by all deaf people.

“Are we getting close to the day when we see a deaf player in the Football League? Not yet – but one day I would love to see it happen.

“A deaf player in a professional team would be a huge statement for the deaf community and make a massive impact. Could it happen? Communication is obviously the greatest barrier, along with a lack of deaf awareness.

“All our staff at Brentford have ­received deaf awareness training and being able to communicate with colleagues has made a big ­difference for me.

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“Sometimes, I think there is a ­misconception that deaf people can’t achieve anything – but if deaf people can become great achievers in sport, we could change the whole mentality.



Brentford players celebrate

“Over the last few years, a number of Brentford’s first-team squad have helped out on community projects with me. I remember teaching our ­captain Romaine Sawyers how to sign his name with BSL at a local school, and he did really well.

“And when Thomas Frank spoke to the media after the game with QPR last week, it was the first time I have ever seen a BSL interpreter next to a manager.

“It was amazing and all looked very professional – Thomas was in a very good mood because we’d won 3-0, which I guess probably helped.”

There have been deaf MPs, deaf NFL American footballers and ­deafness didn’t stop Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb.

But wouldn’t it be fantastic if a Premier League club handed a ­contract to a deaf kid?

That would be the greatest legacy of all for Lampert’s body of work.

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