Paul Robinson remains passionate about Watford – both the town and the club – and the defender didn’t pull any punches when stating he would like to see more home-grown and British players in the Hornets’ first team.
Robinson progressed through the Golden Boys’ academy and made 254 appearances for the club before being sold to West Bromwich Albion in 2003.
Spells at Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United followed before he joined Birmingham City two years ago, where he is currently captain.
Robinson grew up supporting Watford and Tottenham Hotspur and said: “I still always keep an eye out for Watford’s results and look to see how they are getting on.”
He continued: “Both my family and my wife Caroline’s family are from the area and it is where I was brought up as a child so Watford will always be close to my heart.
“You will never forget where you were brought up because you always remember the good old times and even when you move on, you have the memories.”
Watford were expected to challenge for the automatic promotion places last season after just missing out on a top-two finish during the 2012/13 campaign but ended up in 13th.
The Hornets hierarchy are keen to challenge for promotion next season and Robinson was asked what the Golden Boys needed to change to secure a top-two finish.
He said: “If they can keep Troy (Deeney) and bring players in at the level Watford are capable of then they’ll have a great chance.
“There have been a lot of changes at the club with a lot of foreign players coming in, which is quite tough for me to take because I was born and bred in the academy there.
“I came through under Graham Taylor and you don’t really see that a lot in football now which is a shame.
“These British lads should be given the chance and brought through. I’m not sure what it is with owners who feel they have to bring their own players in to achieve things.
“Maybe that didn’t work last year [for Watford]. I know under (Gianfranco) Zola they had a good group and reached the play-off final against Crystal Palace which they lost. Then a few of the loan players went back and some signed but it didn’t quite click like it had done in that first year.
“So maybe they’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get players who know the club and know what it takes to make the fans get behind the team.
“That’s what we’re trying to achieve at Birmingham. We’re trying to get a stable team with the right owners and build on the concrete base that you should have at the club.”
When asked if he wanted to see the Hornets play more British players, Robinson added: “Yes, of course. I don’t think it’s right for a club like Watford who are renowned for bringing through their youth players.
“For some reason they seem to be letting them go to other clubs whereas I’d like to see them progress through the club, take the club to a position they know is as far as they can go and then move on.
“I’d love to see Watford give their youngsters more opportunity because it is a home-grown club.”
Robinson was twice linked with a return to Watford; following the Hornets’ promotion to the Premier League in 2006 and again when the Pozzos bought the club in 2012.
He explained: “There were talks at the time when Watford were promoted under Aidy Boothroyd but nothing really happened as West Brom and Watford couldn’t come to an agreement.
“That was it for me, nothing else was said to me because it was dealt with between the two clubs and my representation.
“Nothing came of it and I don’t know how close it was to being done because I wasn’t spoken to about it. You only get told really when you have to go down and have a medical once the deal is done.”
He continued: “I think there was [interest] again [following the Pozzo takeover] but I think that was more just publicity for Watford. The new owners who came in wanted a few of the old Watford boys back there but that wasn’t as concrete as the time under Aidy Boothroyd. So that was only paper talk and maybe people trying to stir a few things up.”
Robinson won both the Player of the Year and Players’ Player Awards last season, when he made 46 appearances for the club.
Last month Birmingham reported a one-year extension had been activated but Robinson stated the new deal hasn’t been signed yet.
Robinson said: “My body feels great and I am continuing to enjoy my football. I have a new one-year deal at Birmingham but nothing has been completely agreed yet.
“We’re still in talks to get things going but hopefully that will get sorted out soon and I can concentrate on my football.”
Robinson was speaking to the Watford Observer ahead of the charity cycle ride he will be taking part in with his wife Caroline, who is also from the Watford area.
Molly Ollerenshaw was the daughter of friends of the Robinsons who died in 2011 at the age of eight due to a rare form of kidney cancer.
The Robinsons, who are based in Warwickshire, will be cycling from Claverdon Primary School in Warwickshire – the school Molly attended – to Paul’s old secondary school, St Michael’s in Garston.
They pair will set off at 1.30pm on Tuesday and hope to reach St Michael’s by the same time the following day, stopping off at several destinations including John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, High Wycombe’s Eden Shopping Centre, Rickmansworth High Street and Charter Place, Watford.
For more about the Robinsons’ charity ride, click here. You can donate to their cause at www.justgiving.com/Caroline-Robinson9