“A Tough Week”
Coming off the bench to score the winner in the final felt like just-reward for Treon Johnson, who says the Hornets' Under-18s had a challenging but rewarding week in Japan as they won the Global Arena Cup.
The 1-0 defeat of Nagasaki was one of five games in four days for the young Golden Boys, and Johnson admitted it was more a mental battle than a physical one by the end.
“After loads of back-to-back games everyone was tired and had to push themselves through,” he explained, back at Watford's UCL training ground.
“I started on the bench and that's always disappointing, but it gives you an opportunity to prove a point. It was great to come on and score the winner.
“I think it was important to be mentally strong because my body felt like it was breaking down. Getting the goal, then digging deep to defend to keep the lead throughout the second-half was a challenge but we got there in the end.”
The tournament took the scholars well out of their comfort zone, both on and off the pitch, Johnson citing the difference in style encountered against Japanese opponents as a new experience.
“It was good being in a different culture, getting used to the way they played,” he said.
“They were quite small and agile and we're used to playing against big defenders at home.
“Playing against guys more similar in size to me was a challenge, I had to work out how to overcome them a different way.”
Look out for an in-depth interview with Academy boss Chris McGuane in the coming days.