I would say this is the end of our relationship, but to say that the bond we have forged could ever be broken would be a fallacy. Before I dive any further, I just want to say thank you for everything you have done for our football club.
As an American supporter of the Club, my relationship with you is different than most other Watford supporters. We have neither met nor even taken a picture together, unless you count this season’s preseason fixture against Crystal Palace where I took a selfie with you two hundred feet behind me.
To be truthful, I was very young and not fully in love with the Club when you first found the back of the net for the Hornets against Notts County in 2010. The thousands of miles of water separating us did not help.
On a warm April day in 2015, I was swayed by my British uncle to go to Vicarage Road. I had of course heard of you previously because of that goal against Leicester – even many non-football fans from across the pond are familiar with that moment. Besides that, at kickoff, I was not too familiar with anyone else. From minute one in my relationship with the sport, you were the focal point.
In that match against Middlesbrough, you produced a moment of brilliance which married me to the Club for life. And, for that, I am forever grateful. The sheer energy you conjured from the stadium with your calm finish after a brilliant first touch gave me no choice.
Most teenagers from my generation will tell you they look up to players like Messi or Ronaldo. You are my Messi. You are my Ronaldo. You are my greatest football influence. When my kids ask about the all-time sports greats, of course I will tell them about the joys of watching Lebron James and how I wish I could be old enough to have witnessed Pele’s brilliance. But, no matter whose name I bring up, I know I will ensure your name is put on the table as well. Even though you might not necessarily have the worldwide recognition of Ronaldo Nazario, to me, your impact is greater than any other sporting individual’s by a considerable margin.
Why are I and all other Watford supporters so eternally endeared to you? Is it that goal against Leicester? That chip against West Ham? That penalty against Wolves? Is it any one or all of your 140 goals for us? Is it the two promotions or that five-year glorious stay in the top flight?
For me, at least, I would say, alongside all those electric contributions, that your captaincy is what makes me forever fond of you. You changed what being “captain” meant. You transformed my definition of what a true leader should look like. You are a key reason I hate giving up. You became the most admirable face a club could ever have. You dared to prove people wrong and were successful. In fact, you have even proved me wrong on a couple of occasions, something I will, once more, forever be grateful for and continue to learn from.
I know towards the end of your Watford stay, relationships with some supporters started to get bumpy. Even I expressed my doubts about your performances. Nonetheless, you continued to prove me wrong.
I would like to apologize, however, for the times my message came across the wrong way. When analyzing what your future could hold or what I think your role should have been, I never meant it in a disrespectful way. I simply just tried to put my opinion forward on what I thought was the best for the squad in a given moment while never ceasing to think about your ever-positive influence on the Club and, more notably, my life. So if I ever came across as disrespecting your legacy, I apologize. That has never been my intention. Anyone who spoke about you with anything but positive motives and respect…well, I just feel sorry for them.
I would not trade your stay at Watford for anything. When reflecting on your time, I can only speak full of praise, admiration, and extra-strong respect. Even in the shakier moments, your presence was still pivotal to the Club’s success. Maintaining and growing your character throughout it all has been nothing short of what a role model does.
And so, the time has come where we part ways when it comes to our primary allegiances. While I forever support Watford, largely thanks to you, you get to go and finally live your dream of playing for your boyhood club. I am thrilled you get to finish your footballing fairytale the way you deserve. We all are. Hopefully we have convinced you to cheer with slightly less excitement than usual when Birmingham City next score against us.
I know I am just one supporter out of your many thousands of admirers – I just hope you know every single one of us has our own unique story about all the amazing things you mean to us.
Once more, thanks again for everything, captain.
Adam from Watford Opinions