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Troy Deeney – From Criminal To Captain

It has been more than four years since Troy Deeney was convicted of assault after participating in a violent clash outside the Bliss Bar in Birmingham.

Since the brawl Deeney has seen himself become a Watford legend and in the summer Leicester City made a bid of £30 million for him, however, life hasn’t always been so glamorous for the Watford skipper.

Deeney did not grow up in the most ideal of circumstances, and hailing from a rough area in Birmingham, growing up was tough. He was expelled from his school at the age of 14, and eventually left secondary school education aged 16 with no GCSE’s whatsoever. He went and became a bricklayer on a wage that gave him £120 a week.

After an unsuccessful trial at Aston Villa, he was scouted by Walsall after scoring seven goals for local side Chelmsley Town, ‘whilst drunk’.

He then signed for The Saddlers in 2006. making 123 appearances and scoring 27 goals.

Deeney was attracting interest, and in 2010, Watford had an offer accepted for £500k rising to £650k for the Englishman. After handing in a transfer request, he was Watford bound making his debut as a sub against Norwich City in a 3-2 win at Carrow Road.

The following transfer window saw interest from Coventry City, and the player has revealed that he was close to joining the Sky Blues.

With Coventry City expecting striker Lukas Jutkiewicz to join Middlesbrough, they turned their heads and sounded out Watford regarding a move for their striker.

“That wasn’t a link that was true,” Deeney later explained. “It was after my first year here when I’d been playing on the right.

“Let’s put it this way, if Lukas Jutkiewicz had moved an hour earlier then I wouldn’t be sitting here speaking to you guys now,” he replied.

“But it all turned out alright for both of us in the end.”

After proving his loyalty, Sean Dyche moved Deeney to the striker position playing a target man role where he gathered a strong partnership with Marvin Sordell.

He ended the season with twelve goals and won goal of the season for his sublime chip against Ipswich Town. However, it wasn’t his goals tally that was making headlines.

Paul Anthony Burke – Deeney’s father – had developed terminal cancer and his son was unable to cope.

“He was old school,” said Deeney. “He didn’t like hospitals, didn’t like pills, didn’t like doctors. It was only when he started getting short of breath while he was walking that he decided he had to do something about it.”

The next day, Deeney was out in Birmingham, his hometown. He was drunk, and by the end of the night he ended up in some trouble on the streets. There was a brawl, and someone alerted him that his brother, Ellis, was in the middle of it.

“In a split second, I forgot who I was and what I was,” he says. “I just went back in and steam-rollered anything and anyone who was in the way.

“I could just see a commotion and I thought, ‘right, until I find my brother, someone’s in the way’. The only people I didn’t hit were people I knew. Everyone else was a target.”

The next day, the police showed him CCTV footage of him stamping on a student’s head. “I couldn’t watch the footage,” he said.

“That is my biggest regret. I hit the guy and he went down and as I have turned round to start fighting again, I felt like a tug on my leg.

“If you know, in fighting, if someone’s grabbing at you, there’s a chance he’s got a weapon. You don’t know what he’s got. I just put him out.

“That’s the only part I don’t like talking about. That could have gone so far left. The guy could have died because I am a powerful guy. I didn’t think about my actions.”

However, after his prison sentence, Deeney was a changed player – a changed man.

He has really matured and found a new hunger that he still has today. It is a hunger inside him that motivates the whole squad and shows the rest of the squad what Watford are about.

When the Pozzo family took over in 2012-2013, there were several signings from abroad, mainly from feeder clubs Granada and Udinese – this put Deeney’s spot in doubt.

He was trusted by manager Gianfranco Zola, and made his first appearance for Watford, after his release from prison against Bristol City at Vicarage Road on 22 September 2012.

He scored 20 goals in all competitions that season, with one goal standing out than the rest. A goal that will go down as Watford’s most iconic goal ever.

It was the 12th May, playoff semi-final second leg between Watford and Leicester City. The midlands club had a 1-0 advantage going into the game thanks to a David Nugent header.

Thanks to a brace from Matej Vydra and another header from Nugent, the aggregate score was tied at 2-2, extra time beckoned.

After Leicester were awarded a dubious penalty for a Marco Cassetti foul on Anthony Knockaert in injury-time, it was Knockaert himself who stepped up to take it.

The Frenchman missed the initial penalty, and then his rebound was also saved until the man guilty of conceding the penalty, Cassetti, relieved pressure and cleared the ball, but the game did not stop there.

Ikechi Anya controlled the ball from the clearance, played it forward to winger Fernando Forestieri, he drove to the by-line and crossed it to the back post where Jonathan Hogg awaited. Hogg nodded the ball down to the man himself — Troy Deeney — who rifled it home from twelve yards and sent Vicarage Road into a state of pandemonium.

From that day on, Deeney established himself as a club hero, but not a legend – one thing stood in the way; promotion.

Promotion would have to wait another year, though, as due to players leaving, poor signings and injuries – it all fell apart for Zola’s men. Finishing 13th, when promotion was the target, was enough to see the Italian sacked.

For Deeney however, it wasn’t all bad. He scored a hat-trick as Watford thrashed Bournemouth 6–1 at Vicarage Road. In doing so, he became the first Hornets player to score a hat-trick in a match since Michael Chopra in 2003.

It was also Deeney’s first career hat-trick. Not only that, he became the first Watford player since former Watfrod star and England international Luther Blissett to score 20 or more goals in consecutive seasons in all competitions. Deeney deservedly won player of the season, but as far as Watford are concerned it was a season to forget.

The pressure was on for the club. Promotion was a must in the 2014-2015 season and the spotlight was on Deeney as Watford’s new captain.

Despite four managers being in charge throughout the season, he led Watford to promotion to the elite of the Premier League as they finished in second place with 89 points.

During the 2014-2015 campaign, Deeney became the first player in Watford history to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive seasons. But now he needed to make sure he was ready for the step up into the top flight of English football.

It didn’t start well for the skipper, as while Ighalo was on fire, Deeney was struggling to bag his first Premier League goal. Questions were being asked of him, and every week it was the same old ‘will it be today?’

In fact, it took until October 24th, when Deeney got the opener in a crucial 2-0 win against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

It was arguably Watford’s best season for years, and Deeney was a key member in Watford’s survival as The Hornets finished 13th while also reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Deeney bagged himself 15 goals in all competitions, including 13 goals in the league and a goal at Wembley.

Watford currently sit fourteenth in the league, but a very bad run of form has seen them slip down the table, and performances haven’t shown any sign of improvement.

On Boxing Day of 2016, Deeney bagged himself his 100th goal for Watford against Crystal Palace. However, that goal was long overdue and his last two performances since the goal have been poor.

With just four goals to his name this season, a few questions will and have been asked of him, but he is determined to end the season strongly. One thing is a for certain – relegation is not an option.