First Team 24/05/2017

“I Dedicate It To Graham Taylor”

Sebastian Prödl showed a moment's surprise when his name was announced for a second time at the Hornets' End of Season Awards. 

His winning-battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Hornets' 3-1 win over Manchester United notched the Individual Performance Award, but silently he must have expected to challenge for that one. 

Rarely caught off-guard, he certainly was when applause filled the room at the news he was to be the first Graham Taylor OBE Player of the Season.

Not that he should have been surprised. He pipped Heurelho Gomes to the prize by 24 votes out of thousands, and when you consider the season our rubber-wristed goalkeeper had, you get an idea of just how much the Austrian cap's campaign was appreciated by Watford fans. 

The towering defender has only once in his career made more appearances during a season, at Werder Bremen in 2010/11.

Avoiding injuries, for the most part, was key, as was a trust placed in him by outgoing Head Coach Walter Mazzarri. Prödl made sure to mention the Italian in his acceptance speech. 

Prödl and Ibrahimovic battle it out at Vicarage Road

Prödl joins a decorated list of Golden Boys. Porter and Page, Mooney and Mahon. In fact, five of his predecessors were in the room at Wembley Stadium - teammates Mariappa, Deeney, Cleverley and Gomes, plus Hall of Famer Tommy Smith.

And the Hornets' number five seemed genuinely humbled by the recognition, speaking moments after he left the stage. 

“I think it will,” he said, when it was put to him that the award might go down as one of his proudest moments.

“I don't realise it this evening, but once I'm on my holidays, of course I will remember this season as a very good one from a personal point of view.

“This award means a lot to me, the Graham Taylor Player of the Season Award. Graham Taylor was a big manager for this club, I met him once. 

“I dedicate it to him. I know how important he is for this club. He will go down in history, and this award will go down in my own history.”

Under-18's 23/05/2017

Academy | Scholars Confirmed

The Hornets are delighted to announce that nine players have been rewarded with two-year scholarships at the club starting from next season. The players will join the Under-18 squad at the Hornets’ training ground from pre-season.  

Head of Academy Chris McGuane said: “Congratulations to the players who deserve this next opportunity with their footballing development at the club; it’s an exciting time for the players and their families.

“They have all taken different journeys to get to this point, but they are fully aware of the challenges that now lie before them and how hard they must work at their game over the next 24 months. Everyone at the club is looking forward to working with the players.”

The new Scholars before Sunday's Manchester City fixture at Vicarage Road

The following players have been handed scholarships: 

Emmanuel Adebiyi

Recently joined us this season as an Under-16 having never played for an Academy previously. Emmanuel is a central midfield player who reads the game very well to stop opposition attacks. Comfortable in possession, with a very good range of passing. 

Lewis Gordon 

A left-back who can also play in midfield. He joined as an Under-7 and also attended the Harefield Academy. Lewis has regularly played for our Under-18 team this season and was involved in the FA Youth Cup squad. He has excellent technique and can strike the ball very well. 

James Hoskins

A goalkeeper who joined the Academy as an Under-14 player. A very good shot-stopper with excellent distribution skills. A fantastic character who loves to play football and improve his game.  

Reece Miller

Joined us as an Under-16 this season. A strong and powerful centre-forward who has an eye for a goal. Fantastic attitude to work hard out of possession and win the ball back for the team. 

Jayden Bennetts

An attacking midfielder who can also play as a striker. Jayden has been with the club since he was an Under-8 and has a keen eye for goal. His creativity in and around the penalty box is a key attribute of his game. 

Jayden Bennetts in action for the Hornets' Under-16s

Michael Mullings

Joined the Academy as an Under-15 and plays at right-back. A very quick defender who also likes to get forward and support the attacking play. Michael displays a great attitude to want to develop and improve all areas of his game. 

Daniel Phillips

A central midfield player who joined the club as an Under-14. Daniel is very comfortable on the ball and has very good technique. He breaks lines in possession very well, creating attacking opportunities for the team. 

Kai Sanders

A left-back/midfielder who joined the club as an Under-13, Kai is very quick and likes to attack and get forward as much as possible. He is very powerful and can strike the ball with great accuracy. 

Ben Tricker

A centre-back who has been at the club since Under-7. He has attended the Harefield Academy programme and flourished in the environment. Ben organises and leads well from the back, with communication a key strength of his.