First Team 26/06/2017

Hughes | “Too Hard To Turn Down”

Watford’s new midfielder Will Hughes admits he was genuinely excited at the prospect of joining the Hornets from the moment he first learned of the club’s interest.

The England Under-21 international, who signed on a five-year deal from Derby on Friday, told watfordfc.com: “I’m massively excited.

“When it first came out that I was linked, I spoke to my agent and it's been a slow process but I'm very relieved now.

“I've played against Watford many a time in the Championship and I've always enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to a new challenge now, especially in the Premier League.”

Having excelled for the Rams since making his debut as a 16-year-old in 2011, Hughes is sure he’s now ready to make the step up to Premier League football.

“Every English player wants to play in the Premier League,” he admitted.

“Having played in the Championship for so long I gave it a good go to get promoted, but the chance to join a Premier League team was too hard to turn down.

“I'm massively excited, it's a new chapter in my life and I can't wait to get started.”

Hughes goes up against future Derby teammate Vydra in 2015

Hughes counted a number of former Hornets as teammates whilst at Pride Park, and the 22-year-old revealed they always spoke glowingly of their time at The Vic.

“The likes of Ikechi Anya, Matej Vydra and Craig Forsyth have always had good things to say about Watford, so I'm just looking forward to it,” he said.

“It's a new challenge for me and one I have been wanting to do for most of my career, so to finally get it over the line is a massive relief for me.”

Best known for his creativity in midfield, Hughes says there’s a lot more to his game – thanks to 165 appearances racked up in the Championship – and he hopes to add further qualities whilst playing for Marco Silva’s Watford.

“I think a lot of people have got a perception of me of just being a ball-player, but having played in the Championship for five years you have got to do a lot more than that,” he said.

“I think I bring both sides to my game, with my main strength being creativity.

“I'm looking to score a lot more goals than I have previously and to set up lots of chances too.”

25/06/2017

Defining Moments | Paul Robinson

MY DEBUT IN 1996

It’s probably a special occasion for all professional footballers, but mine was extra special because it was against Luton. I was only 17 at the time and our full-back Dominic Ludden got injured after two minutes. I remember Graham Taylor turned to me and said I was coming on and I hadn’t even done a proper warm-up.

The speed it happened was probably a good thing though because it didn’t give me a chance to be nervous. A few of the lads who I’d come through the youth system with were on the bench that day too and I remember them all buzzing that I was coming on.

As I said, it was a derby as well as my debut, so I tried to put myself about a bit and I think I did okay. The game ended 1-1 and the whole experience is something I’ll never forget. 

PROMOTION TO THE FIRST DIVISION IN 1997/98

Another obvious one but something I’ll never forget. We won at Fulham to secure promotion and on the full-time whistle there was a mass pitch invasion from our travelling fans. I was still so young so had obviously never experienced anything like that.

As much as the game itself though, I remember getting back to Watford and it was like a sea of yellow. I think the whole town had come out to welcome us home! There were people everywhere, even in the fountain at the top of the high street.

As you can imagine, the celebrations went on long into the evening and it was a special night. I loved every minute of that season and that was a fantastic way to finish it off.

Robinson celebrates with teammates after victory at Fulham secured promotion in 1998

PROMOTION TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN 1998/99

The play-off final at Wembley obviously had to make the cut. This was a special day for me in more ways than one though, as immediately after the game I was told I’d made the England Under-21 squad too!

It had always been a dream of mine to play at Wembley, but I’d never expected it to happen so fast. We were a really tight group of lads and before the game it was surprisingly calm. I remember walking onto the pitch and just the pure noise in the stadium was mind-blowing.

The game itself is a bit of a blur but I’ll never forget the feeling at the final whistle. It was a mixture of joy, relief and pure exhaustion! Wembley looked like it was full of yellow shirts that day and to share that moment with so many Watford fans was extremely special.

I’d come through the ranks with the club so to help them back to the Premier League was a massive achievement for me and a proud day for my family. Mixed with the England call-up, it really was a perfect day and one I’ll never forget. 

Robinson and goalscorer Wright after Watford's play-off final win at Wembley