Sebastian Prodl has praised the influence of former Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri on his defending style and said his former boss was the reason he developed an interest in Italian football.

The Austrian defender joined Udinese after leaving Vicarage Road in January after injuries caused him to fall down the Hornets defensive pecking order.

However, under Mazzarri, Prodl was a key member of the team and was named player of the season for the 2016-17 campaign when the Italian was in charge.

"I liked it back in the day when we had the Italian coach Walter Mazzarri, and that was when I pretty much had the best season in Watford," he said.

"I was tempted by getting more Italian influence in the way I defend, I think Mazzarri showed me a new way of defending and he triggered the best out of me, so I kind of followed the Italian way of football.

"I like the atmosphere in the stadiums. They're not the nicest stadiums, but Udinese's home stadium is quite new, it's one of two new stadiums in Italy, so I've got the chance and I've taken it."

Prodl also claimed another reason he is heading to Italy is to try and extend his playing career, with Serie A offering players a chance to continue playing long into their 30s.

However, before he gets his chance with Udinese, he must first shake off the most recent injury that kept him out of action at Watford for the past few months.

"People in Italy are able to play longer football as long as they're fit," he said.

"In England you mainly see very young, very physical players around and there's not many players above 30 being on the pitch weekend after weekend, so this was also an idea in my head, to maybe renew my strength and to have a chance to play football for longer at the highest level.

"Unfortunately I'm still injured so I haven't had my chance on the pitch yet, but I'm working hard to get back on the pitch and I can also hopefully get into the Italian football and I'm really looking forward to the new challenge. It's always good in life, not just when playing football, to go out of your comfort zone, to try something new, new challenges to get to know yourself a little bit better, to strengthen your character and to adjust to different situations. I always wanted to get the biggest challenge I can have in my life and in my career, so that's why I'm pretty confident this will work out for me."

Reflecting on his Player of the Season performances under Mazzarri, Prodl said the award was just a bonus for him, but that fitting into the club's ethos was much more rewarding.

While he is still delighted with the accolade, he said it may be a few years yet before he fully appreciates just what it means.

"That's what I always try to do at every club I join - to get a feeling, to respect the people, to learn the language, to understand the idea of the club," he said.

"I think it was the cherry on top of the cake because it's very rare that a defender will be named player of the season and it was an outstanding honour for me and I always said, even when I won it, I think the time I will appreciate and be happy about this will be in the future, not now because I'm still focused on other things.

"As soon as I think back I get goosebumps because it's a milestone in my career and it always will be. This made me connect with the club even easier and also they appreciated my art of playing football and my style of play and my commitment to the club, which I'm very proud of."