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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Success thanks Watford fans

Last July, Premier League side Watford FC broke their transfer record in signing a 20-year-old Nigerian Isaac Success from Spanish La Liga side Granada.
The fee was the surprise; Success’ move away from Granada was not. The young Nigerian had impressed in his two-and-half-year stint in La Liga.

“It was a very good place for me to develop my game,” Success says as he spoke exclusively to at his Watford base. “Slowly and steadily I was allowed to develop my game and then very quickly my teammates started having confidence in me and were always willing to give me the ball on the pitch.”
Success (below) grew up in Benin City, Midwest Nigeria, where his mum wanted him to study and leave this football alone.

“My mum is a teacher and she was always on my case to concentrate on my studies and leave football,” he says with the lovely boyish smile that belies his very strong features one has come to expect of professional footballers.
“It was hard to convince her. One day, I sat with her and said ‘mum, let me play this football and be happy because it is what I am happy doing; when I finish playing I will go to school.’ She agreed and that was how she left me and started supporting me.”

The bond between mother and son is very strong clearly “before any match I always call her and talk to her a little bit and tell her I love her.”
To be a successful footballer or in any professional sport you have to be brave and be confident in your own ability. As a teenager, you are in the tunnel at Camp Nou to face Barcelona, how do you prepare for this? “There is not one defender that I believe I can’t dribble past,” Success says. Huh? “Yes. That first time at Camp Nou as I looked at Pique and the rest that would play for them I felt that if I played my game I will give them a tough match.” That simple? “Yes.

For me, I see it like: They do their thing and I do my thing and we see what happens at the end of the game,” he concludes with that confident smile.
Even though a lot of players move between the top five leagues in Europe these days successfully, transitions are not always easy. Having played in LaLiga, what are the obvious differences between the two leagues? “Physically, I have no problems whatsoever coping with the physicality of the Premier League.

However, coming from Spain, I was used to getting the ball a lot and doing more with it. When I came here I found that we do a lot more without the ball and run much more. It was hard to adjust and I am sure that’s why I got injured early in the season as I don’t think my body was ready for it all,” he said these with steel in his eyes that you find in professional sportsmen.
“When I came back from the injury I understood that I have to be fit physically and mentally first before being able to show skills productively.”

His face then takes up a very serious look as he talks about the Watford fans. “I can’t thank them enough for the love and patience they have shown towards me. I will make it up to them next season. They have been fantastic with me from the first day I arrived.”

There have been glimpses of the talent especially on his first Premier League start away at Middlesbrough. “It was my first start and I was so, so determined. I was sharp and I was determined to do great things,” he says with his face lighting up considerably at the memories of a match in which he played so well enough to be named man-of-the-match. “Oh, I was having fun and on form. At the end of that match I felt I was ready now to take my club forward and show everyone what I was capable of.”

The career of a footballer is sometimes determined by a lot of things completely out of their control. “I got injured after that match against Middlesbrough and I was out for two months. It was so frustrating and that’s another reason I am very grateful to the Watford fans and the technical crew. They have shown me only love and they trust me and so definitely next season I aim to repay them for this.”

Success & Odion Ighalo at Watford
Success has followed the same path to the Premier League as Odion Ighalo. They played together at Granada and it was the older Nigerian who helped the young forward settle down in England. “He’s like a mentor to me,” Success says of Ighalo. “He was playing in the Granada first team when I was in the youth side and I used to look up to him a lot. He was always available to give me advice and encouragement then.”

That seemed to have continued in England. “When I got to Watford it was so nice and comforting to see him. He was also able to tell me how to live my life here in England on and off the pitch, he is a proper big brother,” Success said.
Ighalo is now in the lucrative Chinese League and in one of the most symbolic things of the season Success made his Watford debut coming on for him at home versus Manchester United.

The hosts were leading 2-1 so what did the manager say? “He told me I was fresh that I should use my pace and waste time and possibly get fouls.” And Ighalo? “He just said to me as we shook hands ‘go do your thing’ and I replied 'yes bros, ok bros.'" Success went on and ran United’s new boy Eric Bailly ragged causing a storm on social media platforms in Nigeria that weekend as Watford finished 3-1 victors.

Isaac Success is clearly determined to be a success at Watford and with it, be in the frame to also feature regularly for his country’s national team as they battle for qualification for Russia 2018 World Cup. He just hopes to remain fit enough to fulfil these short-term ambitions. “I am at Watford to make history and I will. I am going nowhere anytime soon.”


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