When Adrian Mariappa pulled on his Watford shirt against Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2011/2012 season, you would have been forgiven for thinking he would forever be stranded on 247 appearances for the Hornets.
However, the Academy graduate's return to the club at the beginning of this season provided the Jamaican international with the chance to further write his name into the club’s history books.
Almost eleven years after his senior debut, Mariappa’s place in the starting line-up against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Saturday finally secured the much coveted quarter of a century accolade.
We take a look back at exactly how Mariappa reached 250 appearances, and highlight some of the milestones along the way.
5 appearances, 0 goals
A 19-year-old Adrian Mariappa didn’t have to wait long at the start of the 2005/2006 Championship season to make his Watford debut.
A Carling Cup clash against Notts County at The Vic provided Watford fans with their first glimpse of Mariappa in a yellow shirt. Partnering Jay DeMerit at the back, Mariappa marked his debut with an assured performance in a 3-1 Watford win.
Mariappa would go on to start in the third round defeat at Wigan, before making his league debut as a second-half substitute against Leeds United in February 2006.
A further appearance from the bench would follow in a 2-1 win against QPR on the penultimate weekend of the season, before being rewarded with a full league debut in a 0-0 home draw with Hull City on the last day of the season.
Mariappa would go on to earn a place on the bench as Aidy Boothroyd’s side secured promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs, rounding of a hugely successful season both for Mariappa and the club.
25 appearances, 0 goals
Despite making just five appearances in all competitions during the previous campaign, Mariappa had made enough of an impact to earn a starting place in the Hornets’ opening day Premier League clash away at Everton.
A 2-1 defeat ensued, with Mariappa then having to wait until the middle of December for his next Premier League appearance. Once back in the team, Mariappa featured heavily in the rest of the campaign and was an ever present in the side that reached the semi-final of that season’s FA Cup.
30 appearances, 0 goals
Relegated back to the Championship, Mariappa found himself in and out of the side that eventually missed out on an immediate return to the Premier League with defeat in the play-off semi-finals.
He did, however, chalk up his 50th appearance for the club on the 12th February 2008 in a 1-0 win over Leicester City at The Vic.
47 appearances, 1 goal
A season of managerial change at Vicarage Road, but Mariappa’s positon at the heart of the defence was a consistent presence throughout. Under the leadership of Aidy Boothroyd, briefly Malky Mackay and then Brendan Rodgers, Mariappa would go on to enjoy the most productive campaign of his career to date.
More inclined to prevent the ball going in his own net, Mariappa would also enjoy the rare feeling of scoring as he struck his maiden Watford goal in a 3-1 defeat away at Wolves in January 2009.
In a season of personal success, his 100th appearance wasn’t far behind either, coming in a 0-0 draw with Ipswich in March of the same year.
49 appearances, 1 goal
Now under the management of Malky Mackay, Mariappa continued to flourish under the leadership of the former Watford centre-half.
Despite being the tender age of 22, Mariappa’s maturity and consistent performances earned him the honour of leading out the Hornets for the first time in a 1-0 win over Burnley in September 2009.
Mariappa would go on to be the only player to feature in every league and cup game for the Hornets that season, ticking off 150 games for the club in the process during his side’s 1-1 draw at Preston in April 2010.
49 appearances, 1 goal
More of the same for Mariappa during the 2010/2011 season, with another 49 appearances and another single goal.
A first red card of his career against Middlesbrough in March 2011 ended a highly impressive run of 114 consecutive appearances for the club – the fifth highest in the club’s history.
However, that didn’t stop him chalking off his 200th appearance for the Golden Boys with that milestone arriving during a 2-2 home draw with Norwich in April 2011.
42 appearances, 1 goal
In what would turn out to be his final season in his first spell at the club, Mariappa marked his farewell with a fine personal campaign under the guidance of another former defender in Sean Dyche.
Scoring his single goal in a 3-2 victory over Leicester in February 2012, Mariappa would finish the season as Watford’s Player of the Season, as voted for by both the fans and players.
His final appearance for the club came at The Vic on the final day of the 2011/12 Championship season against Middlesbrough, and fittingly ended in a 2-1 Hornets win.
3 appearances, 0 goals
They say good things come to those who wait and after a four season absence from Vicarage Road, Mariappa finally earned his 248th appearance in January’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Millwall.
249 was to follow last Tuesday (April 4) when Mariappa came on as a second-half replacement in the 2-0 Premier League victory over West Bromwich Albion before reaching finally a quarter of a century in Saturday’s Premier League defeat at Spurs.