The multi-national squad at Watford brings a blend of rhythms and the man in charge of the pre-game soundtrack, chief goalscorer Troy Deeney, is qualified to give the lowdown on what gets Gianfranco Zola’s team in the zone.
Since the opening exchanges of the season it has been a little bit quiet on the goal front by the extremely high standards the 25-year-old set in 2012/13. The former Walsall frontman struck 20 times as Watford reached the Championship play-off final and he scored five in the first three games of the current campaign.
Despite a comparatively lean spell, Troy was on the mark twice at the weekend, rescuing a point in a 3-3 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road. That double took him to nine for the season and his importance to the Hornets is undeniable. In addition to leading the attacking charge he also helps to set the tone in the dressing room as the players prepare on match days.
His ex-teammate and current Scunthorpe United striker Chris Iwelumo mentioned Troy as the team DJ when he was at Vicarage Road. Iwelumo revealed in that interview on here his secret liking for the opera and while there may not be anyone in the Watford squad at present who shares that interest there are certainly some varied music tastes about, as Troy describes.
“Yeah that’s me, I’m usually the one on the music. Lloyd Doyley tries to play Barry White sometimes so we shoot him down straight away!
“Nyron Nosworthy’s into his house music. We’ve got the ones like Fernando Forestieri and Javier Acuña who are into the South American music.
“I couldn’t tell you what it is they listen to but the beat sounds good! Fitz Hall still thinks he’s 18, he likes his US and UK hip-hop.”
The introduction of numerous overseas players at Watford since the June 2012 takeover of the Pozzo family, who also own Italian club Udinese and Spain’s Granada, has been well-documented. A whole host of signings arrived, the majority of which were on loan initially. The list included full internationals such as veteran Italian defender Marco Cassetti, as well as up-and-coming talents like forward Fernando Forestieri and midfielder Cristian Battocchio.
In amongst those imports in the squad are homegrown names including a 20-year-old midfielder who came through the youth system at the club but represents Ireland at Under-21 level. Aside from defender and club legend Lloyd Doyley he was the first one Troy thought of when it came to the more questionable musical preferences in the ranks. He also draws attention to Scottish international wide man Ikechi Anya who according to centre-back Fitz Hall has five different accents!
“Sean Murray, definitely – he’s a One Direction fan and I’m not into that. Ikechi Anya likes anything that isn’t commercial and it literally can be anything.
“His brother (hip-hop artist Chima Anya) does music so he’ll listen to him but then he’ll go totally left field and listen to some guy from Sweden.”
It is important for the members of any club’s dressing room to remain upbeat throughout the season and the amiable former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola found a way to achieve that in his first year as manager at Vicarage Road. Watford were denied automatic promotion by a home loss to Leeds on the last day and finished 3rd in the table before being beaten by Crystal Palace 1-0 in the play-off final.
Not reaching the Premier League was gut-wrenching for Hornets supporters but it was a season of largely winning football for the club. It requires character and resilience to go with on-field ability to make that possible and Troy was a big part of that. He is an integral personality within the group and he grabbed the headline moment in the play-off semi-final second leg with Leicester.
There are not too many football fans who aren’t aware of it by now but with moments remaining the score was 2-2 on aggregate. Watford were 2-1 up on the day at Vicarage Road but Leicester’s Anthony Knockaert had an injury-time penalty to take Leicester to Wembley. Manuel Almunia saved the spot kick and the rebound before the home side swept forward in a passage of play that ended with Jonathan Hogg heading down for Troy to smash home the most dramatic 97th-minute winner.
As it stands, Watford are six points from the play-off places in 12th but the ever-changing picture in the Championship is the overwhelming characteristic of the division. It is difficult not to feel that any surge in form over the coming weeks and months will strongly involve Troy and as alluded to he is a prankster and dressing room DJ amongst his unofficial roles.
The usual topics for players in interviews include their individual form and that of the team so this was an opportunity for Troy to show another side. Music is a big interest area for the former Aston Villa youth and as we have heard about his teammates’ tastes here is an insight into his own.
“I’m a bit of an all-rounder when it comes to music, I like a bit of everything as long as it’s good music. If I had a choice though I’d have to go with r&b like Chris Brown and Trey Songz.
“The first CD I bought was Young Jeezy. I haven’t been to any festivals – I’m a bit lazy for all-day ones like that!
“I plan to do Ibiza Rocks so that’ll be around June time but I’m more into going to concerts. I went recently to a Jay-Z gig and he was very good.
“I’ve seen him before with Kanye West when they did the ‘Watch the Throne Tour’ and that was unbelievable. On his own though he had the whole crowd going and the audience was just all across the board.
“It wasn’t just a black audience; there was a real mix of people.”
Roc Nation’s leading man may have impressed Troy when he saw him perform live but the same cannot be said for two of the Watford squad when the singing spotlight fell upon them. One is a 20-year-old midfielder on loan from West Brom and the second is a teenage striker who impressed during a very prolific spell with Reading’s Under-18s last season.
“George Thorne’s just done one and he sang a Justin Bieber song, which probably sums him up! The young boy Uche Ikpeazu did it but he had to do it about three times because he kept messing it up.
“He did ‘Beautiful Girls’ (Sean Kingston) but he just made up his own words!”
On the other hand, there was one initiation effort that did pass the test for Troy and it came from a player who will turn 19 in the next few days. The midfielder was on loan with Watford last season from Chelsea and is currently spending a temporary stint with Nottingham Forest.
His thunderous strike in the 2-1 win over Leicester in the league in April caught everyone’s eye. It perhaps showed ability beyond his years and his choice of song for his own rendition showed a similar seasoned touch!
“Nate Chalobah did ‘Return of the Mack’ (Mark Morrison) and he was very good.”
It was in August 2010 that Malky Mackay took a chance on Troy after a season in which he had scored 14 goals in League One with Walsall. The pressure of the fee (an initial £250,000 rising to £500,000) was one thing but stepping forward to sing for new teammates is another matter! After a slight bit of conferring, myself and Troy decided the track he performed was Trey Songz (featuring Fabolous) ‘Say Aah’!
“When I joined Watford I did Trey Songz…what’s that song? The one with ‘pop bottles’ in it.
“When I sing it’s nothing like it’s meant to sound but in the car when it’s turned up it’s exactly how it should be!”
Troy already gave the thumbs up to Nathaniel Chalobah for his version of a 90s classic and he was the candidate he went for on this occasion too. When asked which career teammate he would choose to sing a cover version alongside him there was only one person he wanted on this slow jam!
“It would have to be with Nate and I’d go for K-Ci and JoJo ‘All My Life’. Nate can hit those high notes and I’d just back him up!”
In addition to his work in the community, the vast majority of Troy’s energies are focused on his four-year-old son Myles. He is due to get married to his partner Stacey, who he met while the two were at school, and as his brace against Leeds on Saturday proved he is still as hungry as ever for goals.
We have heard all about the musical inclinations of those he works with but what about the ones who have influenced him on the field? To round off, here is Troy’s selection of his career teammates he would have alongside him in a 5-a-side team.
“Best keeper would be Tomasz Kuszczak – he just had this presence like the Terminator! He’s big and strong but a really nice guy to go with it.
“For a defender I’ll go with Fitz Hall. He’s got a lot of ability that people don’t realise.
“He’s not just the stereotype of a big defender; he’s got good feet and can mix it up with long and short passes. I’ve got to pick him as well because he’s cooking dinner tonight!
“I’ll go for (Nathaniel) Chalobah as my midfielder. When he came here he was only 17 but you could see he’s got everything to be a massive player.
“Up front – Michael Ricketts. I played with him at Walsall and he’s a top friend.
“He’s got great quality and he really helped me. I’m going to his wedding and he’s coming to mine in the summer so we’ve kept that friendship.”