When Adrian Mariappa departed Watford for Reading in 2012 the prospect he would add to his 224 starts for the Hornets seemed an unlikely one.

The then 25-year-old was joining a Premier League outfit and looked to have all the credentials to make the move stick.

Five years on from that move to Reading, and with a spell at Crystal Palace added to the mix, Mariappa is thriving at the heart of Watford’s defence once more.

He stands on the cusp of a landmark outing in yellow and is in line to make his 250th start for the Hornets against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.

It is clear the club has left as much of an impression on Mariappa as he has on the Vicarage Road outfit.

“The club means everything really. I have come through the youth system, through the reserves and managed to break into the first team,” Mariappa said.

“I signed for the club when I was nine, so to reach such a milestone is a massive achievement.

“To be playing week in, week out is massive for myself and I take great pride in that.”

Having returned to the club in the summer of 2016, Mariappa struggled to make an impact on the Watford starting XI last term.

He was frequently overlooked by the now departed Walter Mazzarri, a situation many of Watford’s key men experienced during the Italian’s tenure, and didn’t start in the league until April.

The 31-year-old admits to last season being a test but says he accepts that retaining a first-team spot is a weekly battle.

He said: “Last season was quite difficult and I had to wait a long time to get an opportunity in the league.

“This season the chance came a lot quicker and I managed to get a few games under my belt.

“Every day in training is about earning the right to play on the weekend and when I do play it is about keeping my place.”

With Watford’s frequently changing cast, players like Mariappa fulfil an important role in educating new arrivals in the Watford way.

It is a task Mariappa says he and the more experienced members of the Hornets changing room understand and take on.

He said: “It is all about having the right attitude day in, day out for anyone coming in and reiterating to them that is what stands this club in good stead.”

What then of the future for Mariappa and Watford?

The man himself says he has seen the club change immeasurably in his two spells in Hertfordshire and believes in Gino Pozzo Watford have an owner with grand ambition.

“Everything has changed,” he said. “The stadium to the training ground, it has all changed.

“The owners are very ambitious and want to really thrive in the Premier League, not just be in it.

“There is no letting up and you have to come in and work hard every day because they demand performances.”