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As Troy Deeney Departs Watford, His Legacy Extends Well Past His Playoff Goal vs. Leicester

After 419 appearances and 140 goals for Watford, Troy Deeney is announcing his departure from the club. His playing career is not over though, as he joined Birmingham on a free transfer — a fitting move since Deeney has a Blues badge tattooed on his calf, a tribute to his favorite club in the city in which he grew up.

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Deeney's legacy will always be intrinsically linked to Watford, the club he earned promotion with twice and scored countless goals for. More specifically, he will be remembered for his playoff semifinal goal against Leicester in 2013 — a footballing moment of pure drama and jubilation that may not be surpassed in any of our lifetimes.

It's difficult to mention Deeney or Watford or any of the great goals in footballing history without bringing up these few minutes of madness, which, even eight years later, offer guaranteed goosebumps upon viewing.

Yet to simplify Deeney's career down to this singular moment is most unfair given he scored 139 other goals for the Hornets — including in some of the biggest matches in the club's history.

In the modern era of football, where the transience of footballers seems to increase each year, it has become so difficult for players to represent a club, yet Troy Deeney has managed to do just that.

We all remember his great goal against Leicester, but here are some of the other important moments from his Watford career.

Troy Deeney's Best Moments For Watford

Goal & Assist in Promotion Clincher, 2015

Before Deeney demonstrated his talents in the Premier League, he was one of the most lethal goal scorers in the Championship. In 2012-13 and 13-14, Deeney had a combined 44 and 14 assists in league play, with the most memorable being that playoff winner against Leicester.

Yet Watford fell in the playoff final in 2013, and despite a career-high 24 goals from Deeney the following season, the Hornets finished a disappointing 13th.

But in 2014-15 everything fell into place. A couple of key signings at both ends of the pitch strengthened the squad immensely, and heading into the penultimate day of the season, the Hornets held onto first place in the Championship — just one point clear of third-place Middlesbrough. Watford faced a trip to Brighton, and who else delivered but the main man up top.

Deeney scored on a smart finish inside the penalty area in the 29th minute, then, with Brighton pushing for an equalizer late in second-half stoppage time, his assist on Matěj Vydra's goal clinched the three points for the visitors.

They still had to wait on scores elsewhere, but when word of Middlesbrough's 4-3 defeat to Fulham arrived, it meant that the Hornets had clinched Premier League promotion for just the second time in their history (they enjoyed a single top-flight season in 2006-07).

First Premier League Goal vs. Stoke City, 2015

After earning promotion to the Premier League, Watford had a decent start to the 2015-16 campaign, sitting 15th after nine matches played. But Deeney still had yet to score in the top flight. That all changed on a late September trip to Stoke.

The striker received a pass at the top of the 18, and, using a clever turn, he opened up acres of space for himself to slot home in the bottom corner. He would go on to score in four straight matches as Watford won six of its next eight fixtures, rising as high as seventh in the table.

The team cooled off in the second half of the season, but Deeney's 13 goals and seven assists helped the Hornets finish a comfortable 13th.

Lofted Goal vs. West Ham, 2016

After no wins in three matches to begin the 2016-17 Premier league campaign, Watford looked to be in deep trouble again as it traveled to face West Ham on Match Day 4.

The contest looked to be over after 33 minutes when Dmitri Payet — still at the height of his creative powers in the Premier League — sent in a perfectly placed Rabona cross to find the head of Michail Antonio for a 2-0 lead.

The Hornets fought back though, as Odion Ighalo halved the deficit thanks to a deflected shot near the end of the first half, and then, just before the halftime whistle, in came Deeney, with a goal that combined his willingness to run with a superb bit of skill. 

A long clearance from Watford looked simple enough to deal with for West Ham goalkeeper Adrián and center back James Collins, but with Deeney chasing down the pair of them, Collins' header failed to clear the danger.

Deeney collected the ball on the left edge of the penalty area, and, after taking one touch to control, he attempted an audacious chip that floated over the West Ham defense and into the back of the net.

The English striker's goal provided the momentum shift Watford needed, as the Hornets scored twice after the interval to earn a 4-2 win. Watford finished in 17th that year, a mere six points above the relegation zone, but who knows what would have happened if not for some timely heroics early in the season from their talismanic striker.

Arsenal Lacks Cojones Quote, 2017

Deeney was always known as a character even back to his days of non-league football, but his remarks after a comeback victory against Arsenal in 2017 cemented him as one of the biggest personalities in the Premier League.

With Watford trailing Arsenal 1-0, Troy Deeney came on at halftime and completely changed the match. 

"I came on today and jumped up with (Per) Mertesacker," Deeney said. "I didn't even have to jump, actually — I nodded it down, the crowd gets up: 'Yeah we've got somebody who can win it,' and they all just backed off."

Deeney scored on a penalty midway through the half, and Tom Cleverley's goal in injury time gave Watford the victory.

"I have to watch what I say," Deeney said of the final scoreline, "but it's (having) a bit of cojones, is what I'll say. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I'll go up and think: 'Let me whack the first one and see who wants it.' For me as a player, I just think 'happy days.' That's my strength — if you're going to let me do my strength against you, you're going to have a tough afternoon.

"I just think personally there's an element of that being an equalizer for me. I know I'm not technically gifted like they are, not as quick, but if you want to fight with me, I'm gonna beat you all day. If you want to come into my world and do that, you can do that, but you've got to be at a level where your excellence of keeping the ball, being fast and getting in the right positions are all 10/10 because my equalizer is I'm big, strong and I do all the ugly stuff you don't wanna do, and I'm going to make it horrible for you."

Virgil van Dijk "Smells Unbelievable," 2019

When asked about who is the most difficult defender to play against, Deeney had no trouble with an answer: Virgil van Dijk. 

"I hate going up against him," Deeney said. “He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting."

But most importantly, the Dutch international smells great, Deeney said.

"(He is) one of those guys that sprays on his top as well, so it smells lovely!" Deeney said. "When he runs past you, it’s like ‘I can’t catch you, but..."

Deeney later doubled down, saying: "He’s 6-foot-6 — I’ve said it before — smells unbelievable. He’s so good."

FA Cup Semifinal Equalizer vs. Wolves, 2019

A common theme on this list? Deeney always seems to be scoring in comebacks. And perhaps no comeback goal on this list was more meaningful than his late equalizer against Wolves in the 2019 FA Cup semifinals.

The Hornets had never made an FA Cup Final before, falling in the semis on five previous occasions, and it looked like the Hertfordshire-based club would make it six straight defeats as Wolverhampton Wanderers held a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

A great Gerard Deulofeu goal (reminiscent of Deeney vs. West Ham in 2016?) got Watford back within one, and then with injury time ticking away, Deeney drew a foul inside the penalty area.

There was no question who was going to step up and take the spot kick, and Deeney thumped home the penalty past John Ruddy to tie the match. 

Deulofeu would provide the winner in extra time with another fantastic goal, and Watford was through to its first-ever FA Cup Final.

Ending Liverpool's 44-Match Unbeaten Run, 2020

When Liverpool traveled to face Watford in February of 2020, there only seemed to be one possible outcome. Liverpool was 44 matches unbeaten in the league, with just one EPL defeat over its last 66 league matches overall. The Reds were top of the table with 79 points — a remarkable 22 points ahead of second-place Manchester City.

By contrast, Watford sat in 19th, a full 54 points behind the league leaders. The Hornets started the season winless in their first 11 EPL matches and just one win through 17 matches. An uptick in form around the holidays saw them win four of five — enough to lift them from the bottom of the table — but not into safety.

The Reds defeated Watford 2-0 earlier in the season — a match in which Liverpool held more than two thirds of the possession.

But on that fateful February evening, something happened that even the greatest minds in football still cannot explain. The possession stats were even more skewed in Liverpool's favor, but Klopp's side only registered one shot on target.

Ismaïla Sarr, in his first Premier League season after joining from Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais, ran circles around Liverpool like a prime Eden Hazard — another EPL star signed from France. Sarr scored twice in a six-minute span early in the second half — the second coming on a Troy Deeney assist.

It was a punch in the mouth to the champions-to-be. The Reds continued to press, but in the 72nd minute Deeney sealed a historic victory for the hosts. Sarr was once again the danger man, and he found Deeney on the edge of the penalty area. Seeing Alisson off his line after the Brazilian committed to Sarr, Deeney's floated finish traveled over 6-4 Virgil van Dijk and under the crossbar.

Despite a valiant late-season effort, Watford was relegated after five seasons in the top flight, but Deeney and the Hornets will always be remembered for their famous victory over Liverpool in the most unlikely of circumstances.

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