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Watford striker Alex Geijo positive about future after difficult start to Vicarage Road career
Alex Geijo's career in English football, by his own admission, did not get off to the best of starts.
The striker’s expected arrival following the Pozzo takeover of Watford was finally confirmed shortly before the new season started, only for him to spend the first two months of the campaign on the sidelines through injury and building up fitness.
When the 30-year-old finally did get his first taste of the Championship, it was also in testing circumstances, coming on as a replacement early in the second half for Troy Deeney after Matej Vydra was incorrectly sent off against Middlesbrough. It was Geijo’s first game in five months and, unsurprisingly, he looked rusty.
But the Geneva-born forward has a proven track record of scoring more than 100 goals in 300-plus club appearances and comes across as not the type of character to let a below-par debut get him down.
“The start has been difficult for me because I came from Spain,” said Geijo, who spent two seasons on loan at Granada from fellow Pozzo-owned club Udinese before moving to Vicarage Road. “The season finished in May. I spent three months jogging a little bit but it is not the same as when you train and it was difficult because I had an injury in the hamstring, another in the calf. I wasn’t fit but you must be patient, be careful with the injury to be OK for the rest of the season.”
The striker also admitted his Hornets debut against Boro had been “difficult”, but refuses to dwell on “one match” and takes a pragmatic view of the international break preventing him from getting the opportunity to add to that first appearance quickly.
“It’s good to be fit but when you start to play you don’t want to stop, it’s the same when the team wins,” he said. “But we must stop. It’s good to see the family, relax a little bit, to think about other things, not only soccer. You stop for four or five days and now come back to the competition this Saturday.”
Asked how long he thinks it will be before he feels 100 per cent, Geijo replied: “It’s difficult to tell you because I don’t know. Every day I feel better, every week I feel better and now I’ve played 30 minutes maybe another time I can play more.
“But it’s difficult to tell you because when I played the other Saturday against Middlesbrough it was five months since I'd played a match. Five months is a very long injury.
“Maybe you can play one time and score a goal and think you are better because it all went very well. I think now I am fit like the other players but I need competition, I need to play, it’s normal.”
Geijo chose to join Watford because the ‘project’ appealed, although he also saw it as an opportunity to experience something new aside from the football.
He explained: “I’m a player from Udinese and when I finished for Granada I thought it was better to change because last year was not my best season, I didn’t play as much as I wanted.
“I spoke to the president one day who told me about the option of Watford, I asked to think about it because I wanted to see the project.
“It’s like when I joined Granada, it was in the second division, I was in the first division but I saw the project.
“It’s a good project, we have good players, we hope – I’m not saying this season – but one, two, three, four years I think the mentality must be to get to the Premier League. It’s ambitious, it’s a very good project and for me that’s important.”
Asked how he was settling in off the pitch, he responded: “Good. At first it’s difficult because when you arrive, my English was not good. I came with my wife, who doesn’t speak English, but if you want to do well, if you want to be OK, you can be OK.
“A lot of people come to London for their holidays, now I can live in London. It’s an opportunity, not only for the soccer, for everything – for the life, a new experience, a new language, a new city. I think I am lucky to have this.”
It is on the pitch though, where Geijo’s move to these shores will be judged a success or not and the player knows his game will have to adapt.
Given he has spent virtually all his career in Spain at clubs also including Malaga, Xerez and Levante, it is no surprise the forward prefers “to play the ball” but he has a strong appreciation of the contrast in styles between the two countries.
“I think in England it’s very important to be strong, physical, to run a lot, move a lot,” he said. “In Spain it’s more important you touch the ball and play good football but it’s not better, it’s just a different style.
“We don’t want to change the style. We must do what the English do. We must be strong and run. But I think in this team we have [the ability to do] both.”