Troy Deeney leaves Watford after more than 400 games for the club; captain's contract was due to expire at the end of the season, but striker leaves as free agent; Deeney has now joined boyhood club Birmingham on two-year deal
Monday 30 August 2021 22:58, UK
Birmingham have confirmed the signing of Troy Deeney on a two-year deal after the striker ended his 11-year stay at Watford.
Deeney says he feels "tremendous pride" for everything he has achieved with the Hornets. The 33-year-old's contract was due to expire at the end of the season, but Watford agreed to let him depart as a free agent.
He has now joined his hometown team and boyhood club Birmingham after agreeing a contract until summer 2023, with the option for a further 12 months, with the Championship side.
The striker joined Watford from Walsall in 2010 and went on to score 140 goals - including his famous stoppage-time strike against Leicester in 2013 that sent the Hornets to the Championship play-off final - in 419 games
In an emotional statement announcing his departure, Deeney thanked Watford for helping to "get me back on track when I was at my lowest ebb". He served three months of a 10-month prison sentence for affray in 2012.
Deeney wrote: "It's weird being asked to express my feelings on my life at Watford Football Club and the emotions I feel about leaving a club so important to me.
"I feel sadness and loss, almost like a close family member has just died. I feel excitement about my new journey and the rest of my life.
"Most of all I feel tremendous pride for what I've achieved and the friendships and connections I've made. Watford literally has changed my life.
"The Watford family redeemed me and helped get me back on track when I was at my lowest ebb.
"Watford is a small part of planet earth but for some of the most turbulent years of my life it was the centre of my universe and I couldn't have wished for better supporters holding me up and I have been truly honoured to be the captain of that club and the fans' representative on the pitch.
"While there is always some frustration when a great journey comes to an end, that will quickly pass and what will remain are great memories that will become the pillars of my life from now on.
"Last but certainly not least to the fans - you have been amazing and I can't say anything less than I love you guys from bottom of my heart.
"You've taken me into your hearts and I can never repay you. This is now my club forever and I hope you know I left everything on the pitch."
Deeney's arrival at Birmingham was announced just hours after his Watford departure, and he told the Blues' website: "Everyone knows that this is my team.
"I've made that clear in the past but if I was going to join Blues, it had to be right for all parties. I believe in the existing project here and can clearly visualise my role in the squad.
"There is an added pressure playing for the club you support, carrying that greater weight of expectation. But pressure is what I thrive on, it's what I have dealt with throughout my career, proving people wrong and silencing the naysayers but I am very aware this is my biggest task to date.
"Now it is time to do that once again. This is not a swansong. This is my next chapter, and it is time to work."
Birmingham head coach Lee Bowyer said: "I am delighted to bring in someone with his experience. He is a winner and wants to help get the club back in the right direction. He is also a very good player, scores goals, brings physicality and brings a togetherness.
"He knows what it takes and that is massive. He is a leader both on and off the pitch, to guide some of the others - especially younger ones looking up at him.
"I have to say that Craig Gardner [technical director] deserves a big well done for getting Troy through the door. The player deserves a lot of credit because he has taken a big wage cut to come here and people won't realise.
"He wants to play for this club and improve it. Craig and the chairman have done exceptionally well to bring in someone of his stature. As the head coach, I am grateful to all of them."
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