Former Watford striker Allan Smart has revealed that whenever he takes a trip down memory lane to watch his 1999 play-off final goal against Bolton Wanderers he feels sad as he knows he will never experience those highs again.

Smart attained immortal status in Watford history and got the keys to the city after his goal in the 89th minute all but extinguished Bolton’s flame with Watford back in the big time for the first time in 11 years.

Although for Smart ’that’ goal evokes proud memories, knowing that he will never manage to reproduce those ecstatic moments triggers feelings of sadness in him.

When asked whether that goal has become an obstacle to find real happiness again in life, Smart confessed that it has undoubtedly served as a double-edged sword as he experiences mixed emotions whenever he sees it.

“I totally agree, but I would never change the experience. With the passage of time it’s something that you reflect back on because it’s a proud moment in your life," he said.

“But for me that goal has an element of sadness because you are looking at the rear-view mirror for long passages in your life.

“It’s sad that we can’t walk down that tunnel at Wembley again but I am equally proud and happy that I was fortunate enough to have had that opportunity and become associated with the most nostalgic stadium in the world and to actually have got a reference point that I am proud of.

“My goal wasn’t mishit, it didn’t hit my backside, I am really proud of the technical part of it because it wasn’t easy.

“Today it makes me sad to watch my goal back but I will never ever say that it was a negative because everybody who plays the game wants to do something and achieve. That’s why you play the game.

“Walking down the tunnel, the build-up and travel to the game…I have fantastic memories. These are things that slip away with the passage of time but I still remember them. “

With less than two minutes of normal time left to play and a nerve-wrecking few minutes of injury-time looming, the Hornets might have seen their narrow advantage out and won the game anyway but Smart feels his goal, albeit not the winner, was decisive as it settled everybody’s nerves.

“I think my goal was decisive because it allowed the crowd to relax," he said. "That’s why it was decisive. At 1-0 everybody was nervous because the game was still wide open and it only takes a referee’s decision, a slip or a mistake.

“More importantly, the people in the stands are nervous because the players are just playing the game. So my goal goal just alleviated the pressure and made everybody relax, and that includes the players because obviously there was more tension on the pitch at 1-0.

“Bolton were going forward and they seemed like they could finish a shot or a cross at any time, they had a real cutting edge on the day.

“I thought we managed the game well. After the first 15 or 20 minutes, we could easily have been behind on the day.

“The second goal made everybody relax and enjoy the final ten minutes or so more.

“Why I was so emotional at the final whistle? A year before I was at Wembley and broke my ankle in a lower league competition final for League One and League Two clubs. We won the game but after 20 minutes I had to come off the pitch with a crack in my ankle, which was really bad. And I wasn’t able to celebrate.

“So, that became part of the emotion as well. And all my family was there at the time, including my ex wife, and it was a special time really.”

Smart’s name did not figure in the starting line-up but no eyebrows were raised after the team had put together an impressive eight-game winning run whilst Smart missed a couple of matches due to suspension.

Reluctant to change a winning side, manager Graham Taylor named an unchanged side from the team that had seen off Birmingham City over two legs in the semi-final.

Yet that only adds to the epic nature of Smart’s achievement. He didn’t let it affect him but instead he waited patiently and scored with one of his first touches of the game after replacing Michel Ngonge.

Other players might have been overcome by the enormity of the occasion, yet Smart hit the ground running with his pregnant wife and the rest of his family watching on at Wembley.

“It was not really difficult (to accept being on the bench) because I had been sent off a few weeks before and the manager had mentioned that it could be tough to get back into the team," he said.

“The team went on a great run and was winning games when I was serving my suspension. I got sent off at the start of that run, got back in the team but the team did really well and won games and I think the bench was the right place for me and I accepted it.”

That iconic finish, which coincided with Watford’s promotion to the Premier League, earned Smart bragging rights but he claims that he never let it go to his head.

“Obviously myself and Nick (Wright, who opened the scoring) have a fantastic memory from that day, for obvious reasons," he said.

“It was watched by the main supporters, it is one of the biggest games in English football and well-viewed around the world and I am pleased that I played my part but I didn’t feel it changed me. I was just playing my part within the team and I am really glad that that’s what I got to do.

“That game is well-recognised within the football club and I am glad I took the opportunity. At that moment we celebrated promotion but we didn’t get carried away because we knew we had a big job on our hands the following season in the Premier League.”