Big interview: Troy Deeney has made the most of second chance

Life is pretty good for former Walsall striker Troy Deeney.

Ex-Walsall striker Deeney is now a Watford hero
Ex-Walsall striker Deeney is now a Watford hero

He is an established Premier League footballer having just surpassed 300 games for Watford, has two children – Myles and Amelia – and is planning for the future by doing his coaching badges. It has all turned out very well for the Birmingham-born 29-year-old.

Things have not always been rosy for Deeney, though.

And in fact, he insists his success in the game is what was intended for his younger brother Ellis, 26, who is playing in non-league for AFC Telford United.

Deeney caught the eye of the Saddlers while turning out for then Midland League Division Two side Chelmsley Town.

He spent four years at the Banks’s Stadium before joining Watford, where he has now been for almost eight years.

The target man is a Vicarage Road hero, but things could have turned out very differently as he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for affray in 2012.

Deeney insists his time behind bars put things into perspective.

“You just look at how my career has progressed from that time,” he said.

“I was doing all right but you get a time where you have to take things seriously.

“I thought I was doing all right, earning a few grand a week. I was Jack the Lad at the time, 22, living the dream. Sometimes I think people upstairs give you a bit of a reality check and say ‘look, this can all be taken away very quickly’.

“And it was taken away, but thankfully I’ve come out the other side with the charity and all the things I’m doing now, stuff I do behind closed doors which I don’t really publicise.

“I feel like I’ve returned that and I have a lot more to give. It adds to the story as well. When I go to schools and speak to kids, they can relate more.

“I’m not just another footballer walking through the door. I’ve got those extra life skills, shall we say.”

A lot has changed at Watford over the past several years.

They do not tend to stick with managers for too long and a lot of players have come and gone. The one constant for the Hornets has been Deeney, who made his 300th appearance in a recent 1-0 win against Albion. He got the winning goal, too.

Loyalty seems to have been lost a little in football over the years.

And while Deeney admits moving has crossed his mind – Leicester and the Baggies being linked with him in recent years – he is proud his name in synonymous with Watford.

“I was speaking to somebody from the club about it,” he said.

“He said when he goes abroad and people ask him what he does and then he says he works for Watford, they say ‘ah, Troy Deeney’. It’s yin and yang. It’s good. In a world where people move on all the time, sometimes it’s nice to be the pillar that stays in the middle.

“There’s also that other time where you think ‘should I move?’

“You wonder if you’ve stayed too long, you get those kind of things, but life is good.

“I can’t complain. I’ve been very fortunate. This, what I’m doing now, was always Ellis’s dream – it was never mine.

“I’m grateful for it, but I also know the responsibility I have with it as well.”

Deeney has scored five times in the league for Javi Gracia’s side this season.

On if he ever pictured himself as a top-flight striker growing up, he said: “No, honestly. It just wasn’t for me, to be fair. I just enjoyed playing football as a kid, with Ellis, in front of the garages – in front of our mum’s house. It was that kind of thing. If I could play football, I’d play it.

“If I had to walk 20 or 30 minutes to get there, I would’ve done it.

“Ellis was the same but he was at Villa for a lot of it.

“He trained and stuff and our family life all sort of tailored to him – there was only one car and our dad wasn’t around too much growing up. It was just my chance to be myself.

“We always did things for Ellis. We all pinned our hopes on him being the main one.”

And he joked: “As it played out, we probably should have paid a bit more attention to myself as I could have been better.”

Ellis recently moved to Telford from Tamworth.

The Watford man was there to give his thoughts on the move, and has sought advice from his little brother in the past.

“People look at football and think it’s this weird and wonderful world, but it’s a just a job at the end of the day,” said Deeney.

“The same way, if you had a job opportunity and you have a family to look after, you weigh up all the pros and cons. Don’t get me wrong if someone came in from the league and offered Ellis silly money, he’d have to commit to it.

“The good thing about me and my brother is, with our relationship, we can always talk. If he has offers, he always says to me ‘What do you think about this?’.

“It’s vice-versa as sometimes I can get caught up in the football world and not realise what the real world is all about – my brother pulls me back down to earth at times.”

England have announced a 27-man squad ahead of friendlies with the Netherlands and Italy, and Deeney has not been included.

He is yet to play for the Three Lions, and admits it is very unlikely he ever will.

“I think that ship is long sailed now,” said Deeney.

“The model; in which they’re going, it’s all young – due to the success of the young boys. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some boys that have done well and deserve it.

“My chance with England would have been my first year in the Prem.

“I scored 15 goals and had 10 assists so once it didn’t happen then, I kind of thought the face don’t fit or they’ve got another plan.

“It’s just one of those things. My career is not going to be defined by whether I play one game or five games for England.

“I’ve come from the Midland Combination Division Two to the Prem.

“Someone told me if I scored 10 this season then it’s seven consecutive seasons of double figures for Watford so I’m doing all right. Life’s good.”

Deeney now sees himself, ideally, spending the rest of his playing career with the Hornets. Once he has to retire, he is aiming to go into coaching and added: “I’m doing my Uefa B Licence. I should have it done by the end of the season.

“I kind of want to wait a little bit before I start my A Licence, when I start feeling like I’m getting old – if that makes sense.

“People I’ve spoke to, when they’ve got that A Licence they’re desperate to get into management.

“I don’t want to force that just yet. I’ve still got four years left at Watford, on my contract.

“I’ll get the B Licence and when I’m older with a few more niggling injuries, I’ll concentrate on the coaching.”

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