The man who would be King
By Phil Jackson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Watford goal-scorer Marlon King's journey to The Premiership has been an epic one.
Watford striker Marlon King's stunning first Premiership goal in midweek marked a miraculous rise for the player many feared would never make it to the big time.
The prolific 26-year-old scored the Hornets' first in the 1-1 draw against West Ham United on Tuesday, picking up their first point of the season.
But for Londoner King the goal was even more significant considering his difficult past.
The Barnet apprentice won a £250,000 move to Gillingham in the summer of 2000, but disaster struck when King bought a stolen car.
"I had all the paperwork," he told the Daily Mail.
He was sentenced to spend 18 months in prison for failing to tell the police exactly where it came from.
While his jail-term was reduced to five months on appeal, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur shelved their interest in the frontman.
"Gillingham stood by me, and I will always thank them for that," King continued.
"But it was tough, even though it was an open prison. I managed to keep myself fit inside. All the prisoners had jobs and mine was to run the gym. But I wasn't allowed to play football. I was still under contract at Gillingham and they demanded that I didn't play.
"I got caught up in something and I didn't realise what was going on until it was too late. I let myself down and I let my family down. But I feel like it has tarnished my name. My reputation."
That was four years ago now, but King's troubles had not yet finished because when he returned to action in Kent he almost immediately ruptured his cruciate ligament in a game at Derby County.
"I had my chances of making a move to The Premiership before now but something always seemed to happen to me," King recalled.
"I was out for another nine months with that injury. A real pain. But as soon as I started kicking a ball again, Nottingham Forest signed me."
Forest farmed him out to Leeds United on loan, where he met one of the coaching staff in Aidy Boothroyd.
"When he became manager at Watford he remembered me from there. I liked his honesty," King added.
"He's a new breed of manager. His man-management skills are brilliant. I'm not surprised he's already being talked about as a future England coach."
King scored 21 league goals to become the Championship's top scorer last term and earn his side promotion, and he has an understandably strong bond to the manager as a result.
"I think we've been good for each other," he concluded.