Michel Ngonge has revealed that he did ‘not enjoy’ Watford's 2-0 play-off final win at Wembley against Bolton Wanderers in 1999.

The Congolese International had never played in front of so many supporters in his career and admitted that the occasion got the better of him.

“It is true, I did not enjoy the final because I had way too much adrenaline," he said. "Let’s not forget that I am Belgian and was not used to play at such a big stadium. I had never previously played in front of 80,000 people in my career.

“Fear? No, it was not fear but the stressful preparation in the build-up to the game took an enormous emotional toll on me. It affected my energy levels and during the game I was very focused. In hindsight, I should have cherished the occasion more because I did not savour the game itself and the win enough.

“I enjoyed it more after the match after going home and seeing the images.”

Watford ran out 2-0 winners courtesy of goals by Nick Wright on the stroke of half-time and Alan Smart at the death. Both strikes came either side of Ngonge’s substitution in the 75th minute.

Less than a year later the Hornets were back in the second-tier of English football on the back of an underwhelming campaign in the Premier League in which they finished bottom.

Yet it was not a surprise for Ngonge that Watford’s stay in the top tier of English football was short-lived as Graham Taylor had opted not to strengthen his team to reward his players.

“After promotion, Graham Taylor did not want to sign new players and told us: ‘I will try with you first and if things do not go the way I want, only then will I buy new players’. We players had gifted him promotion and he wanted to return the favour to us," he said.

"He had the possibility to strengthen the team but did not want to waste any money. For me that was a mistake but it showed what a great man Graham was. He was un grand Monsieur. Any other manager would have spent big on new players while he told us: ‘You gave me a lot and I want to give you something back’.

“Every time we players were on the pitch we worked so hard for him, because we knew we owed him a lot, especially me who he had signed without seeing me play.

“When this man talked to you, he gave you goosebumps, he gave a sense to anything he did and that is important. Moreover, he was not a manager who did things behind your back but was always very honest."

The gulf between the Premier League and Championship is 'massive' according to Ngonge as Watford struggled to come to terms with the high tactical, technical and physical demands demands of the ‘best league in the world’ throughout the 1999-2000 season.

“Other than that, the Championship is the hardest division in the world, nothing is harder than gaining promotion from the Championship," he said. "The teams in the league are very physical, the players take no prisoners and are very hard to play against. The Championship epitomises what English football is all about: it’s English football in its pure state. You have numerous good clubs with a real history such as Nottingham and West Brom. I repeat: No league is harder than the second tier of English football and the jump from the Championship to the Premier League was huge for us because the gap was massive.”

According to the 52-year old every club needs a couple of years to establish itself in the Premier League and Watford were neither experienced nor strong enough to beat the drop in 2000.

“Watford was too small to compete at the time," he added. "Officially any club needs to stay in the Premier League three to five years before it can hold its own. The level is very high. Look at teams like Blackburn and Norwich. They aren’t small teams but struggled to maintain their Premier League status. Up and down, up and down.

“You need to stay in the Premier League at least three to four years to build a competitive squad with good players and have enough money to buy new ones. The Premier League is so rich and if you do not have a strong financial muscle you won’t last the pace.

“The best player I played with at Watford? Micah Hyde. He was blessed with the biggest potential. Technically and physically he had it all but his problem was he lacked end product and did not score enough goals. Him and Richard Johnson formed an exceptional pairing in midfield. I tell you one thing, I played in Belgium and Turkey but Hyde was the player who surprised me the most, he looked the part. I was really astonished that he failed to get to the next level but as a midfielder you need to score goals and he did not do that. He was gifted technically and had this ability to win the ball back but his defect was he simply didn’t score.”