Everyone knows that ‘mum is always right’ and Fernando Forestieri, two years into his Watford career, is regretting not listening to his more than most.
“I remember ten years ago my mother said to me: ‘Please, you must start learning English, you don't know, one day you might be playing in England’. I said “Mum, sshh, there’s no way I’ll play in England, I’ll play here in Argentina. Now look, I’m here.”
It’s fair to say Forestieri has found it harder to learn the English language than some of his teammates who arrived in the summer of 2012 but the likeable forward was able to conduct the whole of his interview with the Watford Observer in English when he sat down a few weeks ago.
“It [learning the language] has been difficult. It’s so difficult,” he admitted.
“Now I speak a little better. Last season it was unbelievable, maybe Troy [Deeney] would speak in one language on the pitch and I would say: ‘What? I don’t understand anything’. For me, speaking English is very important.”
Whilst it took the 24-year-old some time to adapt to the new language, he loved England and Watford immediately.
“It [my time at Watford] started very well and I feel the same in England [as Italy and Argentina]. I like it in Watford because it’s different to London city where there’s too much traffic, too many people. I don’t like this. I like quiet, relaxed. I think in Watford is where I’m best.”
Forestieri lists his house, his girlfriend Andria, shopping and drinking coffee as his favourite things about English life away from football. The worst? “The police here stop me every day in my car. And the weather, is different in Argentina or Spain.”
But the weather hasn’t stopped one of his favourite pastimes; the BBQ. The Argentine-born, former Italy Under-21 international regularly posts pictures of himself enjoying a BBQ in the rain, often with his group of friends which include Queens Park Rangers midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.
Forestieri has spent most of his career on the move, both on the pitch and off it.
The tricky forward had been at seven professional clubs before the age of 22, most of which on loan, so he was delighted when his temporary deal with the Hornets was made permanent.
He explained: “I’m more relaxed. I’ve now finished the season and when I come back from Argentina, I know I’m coming back to England and Watford to my house and everything. I don’t move. This is very important. I have another three years where I don’t have to think ‘what is happening with me?’.”
Forestieri fell in love with Watford immediately and so did most of the fans when it came to him. His combination of skill and hard work endeared him to the Vicarage Road faithful from the start.
“When I hear them sing my name, it is amazing,” he said.
But Forestieri’s choice of clothing led to him receiving criticism from Watford’s own fashion police officer, Troy Deeney. Something which Forestieri welcomed.
“It is nice because it makes the group closer, we have a good relationship which for the team, is important. Troy is unbelievable with people.”
Forestieri comes from the footballing hotbed of Rosario, in Argentina. A place which has produced more than its fair share of professional footballers.
“I don’t know why [lots of footballers come from Rosario],” Forestieri said. “It is the good girls, no? My mum and the other women all produce these children with talent,” he joked. “No I don’t know, Brazil is the same. Football is the first game for everyone.”
The most famous export from Rosario is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. The pair didn’t meet until they changed shirts when Forestieri was on loan at Malaga in 2009/10 due to the difference in age.
But Forestieri’s style of play led to comparisons with the footballing great.
”I would think ‘why are people comparing me?’ He's at the top, he's an amazing player. But it’s a good thing; a good motivation for me in training every day, to improve.”
Like Messi, Forestieri started his career at Newell’s Old Boys before the Watford forward moved to Boca Juniors.
His switch to Europe came at the age of 16 when Italian club Genoa came calling.
He said: “My father, who is a taxi driver, wanted to go to Italy for work and a change from our life in Argentina.
“My father and mother have worked all their lives, me and my brother might not eat on days and it was bad.
“So my father wanted to change this situation. After Genoa said they wanted me, I said ‘ok, I will come’ and this changed our lives.”
Forestieri is as energetic during interviews as he is on the pitch and he spoke with passion when he discussed the celebrations in Watford town centre after the club secured a place at Wembley following a dramatic play-off semi-final victory over Leicester City, when the forward and some of his teammates were mobbed by fans outside the restaurant Zinco.
He said: “I went to eat in Zinco with my girlfriend’s mother and her father, my girlfriend and lots of other people and I said to Danny [Pudil]: ‘Why doesn’t somebody buy champagne and go [to celebrate] with the fans?’ So me and Danny and Matej [Vydra] go and buy champagne and it was unbelievable.”
Forestieri only made one appearance during the final two months of the season when a hamstring injury was followed swiftly by a broken toe.
He was playing well before suffering the hamstring problem in mid-February; the highlight being when he scored at the Etihad Stadium as Watford went close to beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Cup.
He said: “When I scored at Man City, the month or two months before I had started playing very well and my body was very good, I was running very well. But when I injured it [my toe], the season was finished.”
He continued: “When I injured my toe it was a difficult moment because I came back on the pitch after my first injury and then got injured again. This moment, for me, is very sad because it meant no playing, no training. This is my life. If I don’t play, then I’m sad.”
When he was asked what his hopes for next season were, the immediate response was: “No injuries, I hope.
“I think it will be different because I hope with Sannino staying, everything will change. I hope maybe for the play-offs. I hope for no injuries first of all because one month or two months out of football is too much time for me.”