Tommie Hoban received a round of applause in the Watford dressing room on Saturday after the young defender returned from injury to make his first appearance for the club in over a year.
Hoban had been out with an ankle injury since February 8, 2013 and the academy graduate recently told the Watford Observer there were times when he feared he may never play again.
After playing 66 minutes for the Under-21s last month, Hoban came on at half-time against Middlesbrough to a warm reception at Vicarage Road, replacing the injured Lloyd Doyley.
The 21-year-old looked assured on the right side of the Hornets back three and after the match, Watford boss Beppe Sannino revealed the defender was congratulated by his teammates.
"I was so pleased [to see him return] and it was so emotional to see all the lads give him a big clap when he finished the game," Sannino said.
"Tommie Hoban was able to respond to my call in a great, great manner.
"I am very pleased for him because he has been missing for one year and I am very happy for him."
Hoban came through the Watford youth system and broke into the first team under Gianfranco Zola, making 19 appearances in 2012/13.
Sannino says he has been impressed with the youngster's dedication in training and insists he takes great satisfaction that another academy graduate is contributing to the team.
"When I am doing my job every day at the training ground I watch everything - Tommie is the first guy who arrives at the club and the last to leave the club every day," said Sannino.
"I am very happy when players come through the academy and show me they deserve something and can help us during the season.
"What is important is to give them the right time to grow and to show their quality."