Michel Ngonge has revealed that in 1998 Graham Taylor signed him for Watford on video evidence, despite having never seen him play.

After spending the majority of his career in Belgium and two seasons in Turkey, Ngonge was desperate for a new challenge in English football and his transfer gathered pace thanks to Ronny Rosenthal, with whom he shared the same agent in Jacques Lichtenstein.

Taylor had only watched two video cassettes of the player, but nevertheless took a chance on the Belgium-born Congolese frontman because he was pleasantly surprised by his attitude during an interview and won over by his ruthless finishing and blistering pace on show on VHS.

The bold move arguably paid dividends with Ngonge giving a good account of himself during his two seasons at Vicarage Road, and famously scoring the winner against Birmingham City in the first leg of the play-off semi-final which sowed the seeds for Watford’s long-awaited return to the top flight.

“I have a very precise memory from that transfer," said Ngonge. "My agent was Jacques Lichtenstein, who was also Ronny Rosenthal’s agent. Ronny shared a particular affinity with Belgium because he is married to a Belgian woman and had also played in Belgium. So it was Ronny Rosenthal and Jacques who mentioned my name to Taylor.

“And Taylor trusted Ronny blindly. Ronny brought not just me but also Alon Hazan, his Israeli teammate to the club.

“That said, in the summer of 1998 Watford were in the market for a quick and experienced striker to play in Championship.

“So Taylor invited me to Watford before the start of the new season and for two days we held talks with the club over a potential transfer. Then Taylor took the plunge on me despite the fact that he had never seen me play. He had only watched two video cassettes but he could sense my strong determination during our conversation and told me: ‘Ok, I will offer you a three-year contract’. For me that was exceptional.

“I think my performances and goals on the video cassettes must have helped but I think that just by talking to me, he felt I could do the job for him and was convinced I would be an interesting player for Watford.

“I think I did just that in my first season and repaid his faith by scoring some very important goals for Watford, most notably the Birmingham one. I have fond memories of Taylor, he was very human, our relationship was great.”

Taylor’s achievements at the club are unlikely to be bettered or even equalled and Ngonge provided an interesting insight into how his former manager worked behind the scenes and what made him so successful.

“Taylor was a manager who talked to you to lift your spirits and give you tactical instructions," he said. "But on the pitch he was not ‘top’, it was his assistant Kenny Jackett who often called the shots in training. Kenny organised the sessions with the ball, the exercises with the shots on goal and games during training. Them two and Tom Walley were complementary. They had a great staff of 3-4 people and each one of them knew their roles.

“One day we went to White Hart Lane to watch Tottenham’s training sessions but I doubt it was Taylor’s idea. I believe it was Kenny who had organised it. That’s what makes a good manager: a leader who knows his strengths but also has the right people around him with other ideas. I often went over to Arsenal’s training ground to watch (Thierry) Henry and (Patrick) Vieira because they trained next to us and I realised that also there, it was not Arsène Wenger who was holding the training sessions but his assistant.

“It is rare to have a manage who does everything by himself. At Watford it was Kenny Jacket who organised the sessions but Taylor set us up tactically and worked with us on the tactical and psychological aspects.”

Taylor and Ngonge discussed many things during their first few meetings at the beginning of July 1998 but the word ‘promotion’ had never been mentioned.

“Taylor did not believe we could get promoted that season and did not prepare himself for it at all," said the 52-year old.

“He only wanted to build a team for the Championship and this is why he needed me. But what happened? We took so many points and suddenly we found ourselves in the top six.

“I played in August, September, October and then I was out between November and March with an injury. I resumed training in March and in April I was in a great shape and ready for the run-in. There were like eight games remaining and we won them all. It was a great time because not only did we win the last eight fixtures but the team really started to gel, we became a cohesive unit and were tough to play against.

“Once we were in the playoffs we knew that we were on the verge of something huge and seized the opportunity.”

Ngonge, who is perhaps best remembered for his exploits and winning goal against Birmingham in the play-off semi-final first leg, said that he never left anything to chance and ‘worked very hard’ with Tommy Mooney and Jackett in training with the clear intention of wanting to become a real threat on dead balls.

His winning header against the Blues might have been scored in front of 18,535 joyful spectators at Vicarage Road but the foundations for that particular moment had been laid behind closed doors in the dark at London Colney long before.

“Three months before scoring that crucial header in the first leg, I had been practising set pieces such as corners with Kenny Jackett and Tommy Mooney in training," he revealed. "Mooney and I were already really good headers of the ball but we wanted to improve.

“My goal against Birmingham was just the result of the hard work that we had put in during training over three months. We really put a shift in every training session.

“I think that the Birmingham goal was me finally reaping the rewards of my relentless work in training with Mooney and Jackett which had started three months earlier.”