Jose Holebas has revealed that he had no interest in joining Watford in 2015 as he wanted to stay at AS Roma, where he became something of a folk hero following his sensational goal against Inter Milan.

The fact that then AS Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini held clandestine meetings with Watford's hierarchy to sell the defender still rankles with the 36-year old, who claims that he was sold behind his back and against his will.

Holebas claims it was a difficult decision to take because he simply didn't want to join Watford and it took him nearly a month to accept the offer, and in doing so, he became the first Greek player in their history.

When asked why the pendulum eventually swung towards Hertforshire, the outspoken full-back said that it was down to the club's Premier League status and the numerous statements of intent they made with their signings.

The club snapped up the likes of Sebastian Prodl, Valon Behrami and Miguel Britos and that was enough evidence for Holebas to see that the Hornets had an enticing long-term project in place and were not just cannon fodder for the rest of the division.

However the 36-year was very upset that Roma put him up for sale and pulled no punches.

"I never wanted to quit AS Roma but other people decided for me. The sporting director Walter Sabatini decided to sell me, he already had an agreement with Watford before I knew anything about it. Can you believe that?" he said.

Holebas could barely conceal his shock when he found out that Roma and Watford had agreed terms: "I asked Sabatini: 'Why?'

"Then after a few days I said: 'Let's stop discussing man and find a solution now'

"And yes it took me a long time to accept Watford. And in the end I only accepted because it was the Premier League. I also saw which players they were signing back then and thought to myself: 'Ok, this could become interesting after all'.

"But I wanted to stay there. My time at Roma was too short. It was only a year but what an amazing year it was and very successful from a personal point of view. Besides, Rome was such an awesome city and there I played with great players like De Rossi, Ashley Cole and Nainggolan. And a legend like Totti.

"If he is more important than the Coliseum? Not sure about that but he is huge in Rome. He dedicated his whole career to Roma and never left the club. He always helped everyone, including me. Francesco is such a positive person. And the goal against Inter Milan was one of the best of my career also because it was against a massive club like Inter Milan."

Holebas was a late bloomer and enjoyed the most productive years of his career from his late 20's onwards. At 18, he had even turned his back on football because he believed that it was too late to make it as a professional.

However only 18 months later he decided to give it another go and what a decision it turned out to be, as he blossomed into one of the most prolific strikers in the Landesliga, the German equivalent of the English National League, where Holebas scored 15 times in 33 appearances for FC Viktoria Kahl. He was then converted into a left-back after signing his first professional at the age of 23 for Bayern Munich's rivals, 1860 Munich.

Holebas never looked back after signing for Munich's Lions, as he continued his journey from German non-league minnows SV 1910 Aschaffenburg-Damm to the Premier League. In the process he won the Greek league on four occasions with Olympiacos, rubbed shoulders with some of the world's best players in Serie A and represented his country at the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

"How I pulled all that off? I worked hard, I am a hard worker. I stopped playing at 18 before starting again a year-and-a-half later from grassroots, at amateur level. I worked my way up from there and I knew I could do it. I am big fighter, there is no doubt about that."

He spent five years at Watford and was part of the team that defied the odds and avoided relegation between 2015 and 2019, reaching an FA Cup in the meantime. Yet he only played a total of 1,027 minutes in the Premier League this season and was on the pitch for a as little as 48 minutes between December and July, despite being available for selection. But former manager Nigel Pearson was no big fan of the player and instead preferred Adam Masina, ten years his junior.

Holebas was a key component of Watford's starting XI in all bar one season. The last one. The relegation season. Because with him as a regular starter between 2015 and 2019, the Hornets were not once involved in a relegation scrap. And it is not wrong to say that he never got relegated during his time at Vicarage Road, having left with the team clear of the bottom three before the final game against Arsenal.

But how good is the man actually on a scale of one to 10? You would expect the controversial and confident former Hornet to position himself at the higher end of the scale. After all it takes an extremely confident character to defy the odds and make all those people, who thought he wasn't cut out to make it at the top end of professional football, eat their words.

What you wouldn't expect though is what comes next: "How good I am from one to 10? Look, this is really a strange question, but let's say 5, no?"