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Granada loanee Daniel Pudil was on trial at Watford five years before he finally joined the club
In 2007 a young Czech full-back was on trial at Watford but the club decided against signing the player because he was considered too slight for the Championship.
Five years and 22 international caps later, Daniel Pudil has become an integral part of the Pozzos’ revolution at Vicarage Road and has shown he is now ready to make a real impact in English football.
Pudil was on trial with Watford for five days in the summer of 2007, a few months after he made his Czech Republic debut at the age of 21.
Aidy Boothroyd decided against the £1m move and the left-back went on to join Slavia Prague on loan and that season claimed the Czech title – the competition he had won two years earlier at Slovan Liberec.
Pudil’s performances during his temporary stay in Prague persuaded Racing Genk to sign the player in 2008.
He won another league title three years later but when the player and Genk were unable to agree on a new contract, Pudil was told to find a new club. After speaking to Gino Pozzo, he decided on Granada and was immediately loaned to soon-to-be relegated Cesena in Serie A.
It may have taken five years, but Pudil has now realised his dream of playing in England, following his loan move to Watford, and is targeting a play-off challenge this season.
“I have always wanted to play in England,” Pudil stated when he sat down with the Watford Observer this week.
“I was at Watford five years ago and everything was fine. I was really happy here during those five days.
“So when I had the chance to join Watford this year I was 100 per cent sure about the move.”
On the trial in 2007, he explained: “I spoke to the manager at the time and he said he would like to buy me, but five years ago I was smaller and not suited to the Championship.
“The games in the Championship are like duels and I was sure I wasn’t ready for it at that time.”
Pudil is one of 16 summer signings for Watford, which indicates that the Pozzos want to secure promotion to the Premier League, and quickly.
The player himself also makes no secret of his desire to secure promotion this season, although he admits the players know it is a tough challenge.
He said: “I would like to play in the Premier League with Watford, that is why we are here, but we have to be realistic.
“It is the most difficult league in the world and our target should be the top six and we will see what happens.”
Pudil has played in the Czech Republic, Belgium and Italy but despite having vast experience in several leagues, he accepts it will take time for him to adjust to a new league.
The 26-year-old said: “I think everyone needs to change their game because in Italy it is different but you cannot look into the last game against Derby [too much] because nobody played to the best of their abilities and this can happen.
“I am the type of player who will do everything I can to help win the game but I need more games to adapt to the Championship. But I will be OK.”
Whilst he admits it will take time to adapt to English football, off the pitch Pudil is enjoying life.
His girlfriend and son have joined him in Hertfordshire and they live in an apartment in Watford close to Vicarage Road Stadium.
“I like life in England and I am really happy here,” Pudil said.
“I decided to move to England because I prefer to play here as this is the hardest league in the world. After four games, I can already see this is the most difficult league and I like it.”
The defender and his family have also hosted fellow countryman Matej Vydra at their flat since the pair joined Watford but the forward moved into his own apartment this week.
Having another player from Czech Republic “doesn’t matter” to Pudil but he says it has helped Vydra.
Pudil explained: “Of course it is nice to have players from the same country but I have already played in Belgium and Italy where I didn’t have a Czech mate.
“I think it is better for him because right now he cannot speak English and I am the one who helps him with everything.”
Pudil’s support has helped Vydra impress since joining Watford and the 20-year-old’s displays earned the forward his first call-up to the full Czech Republic squad.
Pudil already has 23 caps for his country but missed out on Euro 2012 despite being named in the initial squad in the summer.
He said: “It is the second time I have missed out on the Euros. I think I am unlucky because three months ago I broke my foot and I couldn’t play in the last seven or eight games in Italy.
“But it has happened now and I need to look to the future.
“I think if I play well here then I could receive a call-up but it is most important to think about Watford and not the national team. We will see what happens.”
It is five years since Pudil first visited London Colney and if all 16 of Watford’s summer signings can make the same impression as the left-back, then his hopes of playing in the Premier League could become a reality.