Watford believe he can do it as well, which is why they eclipsed the fee they paid for Roberto Pereyra to bring the striker to Vicarage Road in a club-record move.
“It’s a new challenge for me and an exciting time to be at a club that’s going places with an exciting manager,” said Gray. “I had a fantastic time at Burnley but I feel like I did my job there. When this move came around it was the right time to move on. Watford made me feel wanted and that means a lot to players when a club are really keen to get you.”
The deal for Gray was shrewdly thrashed out by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Duxbury, but the input of Head Coach Marco Silva was the clincher.
“A lot of moves come about sometimes because the directors want you and not the manager, or an agent doing what’s best for himself, but me coming here is what the manager wanted,” said Gray. “He wanted me. And obviously speaking to him, it’s obvious that he’s got a vision for me. I think he [Silva] did his research. I’m sure he watched games and watched clips. So I’m not just coming here off the back of someone who’s working upstairs, it’s the manager’s say-so, and that’s a huge part of it.”
Twenty six and on the rise, Gray is confident in his own ability but isn’t expecting to walk straight into the side. He had to be content with a place on the bench on Saturday as Silva opted to go with those he's worked with the longest during pre-season. “It’s down to me,” said Gray. “It’s competition like it would be anywhere. I’ve got to train well, work hard, and get myself into the team. However the manager wants to play, that’s down to him and it’s down to me to prove to him that I’m worthy of starting. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve wanted to succeed and every club I’ve been at, I’ve managed to do that.”
Watford finished a disappointing 17th last season but some eye-catching transfer business and the installation of Silva as Head Coach has seen expectations recalibrated. “I’ve come here to improve and to compete for things,” says Gray. “I haven’t come here to be relegated. We’re here to go to the very top. We’re not here to fight relegation. That’s not even crossed my mind.”
Neither has the transfer fee Watford paid to Burnley for his services. It's water off a duck's back. “The size of the fee doesn’t bother me too much. People questioned the fee when I signed for Burnley. People were asking how they’d paid £9m for a player in the Championship. The next thing we knew, we’d won the Championship and I was top scorer and Player of the Year in the league, so it’s nothing new that people raise their eyebrows but it’s part of our football.”
Gray will be repaying the transfer fee in instalments with each goal he rattles in. His burning desire to find the back of the net runs deep.
“If you ask any striker, if you’re going to win 6-0 on Saturday and I don’t score and I play the whole game, I’m not going to be happy. It’s bittersweet. That’s just the way a striker’s mind is. It’s the same with a goalkeeper or a defender – if we win 7-0 and in the last minute we concede a goal they come off the pitch unhappy. That’s the way it is. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, it’s just a hunger to succeed and score.”
And that hunger stems from his days at Hinckley where he was just trying to keep his head above water. His career has had its fair share of bumps in the road but now, in full bloom, he's able to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
“I enjoy nice things like everyone does, I like going to nice places, I like buying myself things and looking after my family,” he says. “That was something I’d always dreamed of.”