From a prison cell to the Premier League. Troy Deeney sums up the word unpredictable. If his footballing career comes to an end tomorrow, he can now call himself a Premier League goalscorer.
Shoot takes a look at the Watford hero who guided the Hornets above the likes of champions Chelsea by scoring in the 2-0 win at Stoke on Saturday.
Where did it all start for Deeney?
Deeney is from Birmingham and was born at a time where the city’s main football club, Aston Villa, were thriving within English and European football. His talent was clear so that he went straight to join the Villans and progressed through their youth academy until he received the heartbreaking news aged 15 that he was going to be let go. Perhaps a different career path was a more likely vocation for the Brummie – like a builder, which he did train as. But he still loved the game and decided to play the beautiful game up the road at Chelmsley Town.
What happened next?
Whilst progressing through the youth ranks at the non-league side, he was given a second chance. Walsall provided the opportunity. After being loaned out, he impressed at the Saddlers and especially began to bang in the goals frequently when Chris Huthchings was appointed manager of the West Midlands side. He progressed and developed his game immensely and made over 40 appearances in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season respectively. But if he was living the dream by playing regularly in the third tier of English football, then a move to the Championship would put him in pure euphoria. The club was Watford.
How did he get to this stage?
By pure determination after the worst possible news. He moved to Hertfordshire in August 2010 following a controversial exit from his previous club. Deeney didn’t care though and made his debut for the Hornets on the same day he put pen to paper at Vicarage Road, as he came off the bench against a Norwich side who months later would seal promotion back to the Premier League.
That was the dream for Deeney, and eventually the aspiration came true when he guided his Watford side to the promised land in 2015, scoring 21 goals. That however seemed a million miles away when, in June 2012, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for being involved in a student attack.
Less than a year later he was involved in one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the play-offs when he powered home a goal from 18 yards to send Watford to Wembley just seconds after Anthony Knockaert’s penalty for Leicester was saved by keeper Manuel Almunia. A pure Watford hero from that point onwards.
How big of a shock was his goal at the Britannia?
There were questions after he inspired Watford to promotion last year. Would he be able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League? Would he be as prolific as he was in the Championship?
Although he hadn’t scored before Saturday, his contribution was still great – he had set up three goals for his strike partner Odion Ighalo, and led by example as club captain. But now the questions have been put away for at least another week.
Why is he so dangerous?
Deeney is the pure definition of a target man. His physical build makes him a good outlet for the Watford midfielders to aim at, and while he can hold the ball up, he also has the skill and ability to strike home from distance or in front of goal. If hitting the ball into the back of the net in becomes regular now, the Watford striker might be on the shortlist for the England squad. There is still a long way to go though as Deeney’s footballing fairytale continues.
Super Stat: Deeney’s strike against Stoke was his first goal since April 25 – the day Watford were promoted.