Having joined Watford from Sparta Rotterdam at the start of this year, Nigerian international goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was loaned back to the Dutch club so he could finish the season playing for them.

He ended the campaign with 30 Eredivise appearances to his name, but he was also following Watford’s fortunes at the same time.

“Yes, I saw almost every Watford game, trying to watch as much video footage as possible,” said the giant keeper who says he’s “probably nearer 6ft 7in than 6ft 6in”.

“It was important for me to try and connect with the team even though I hadn’t arrived. I did also come over here for a little bit of treatment on a small shoulder problem towards the end of last season. The club did a fantastic job and I was able to meet a few people."

The move to England fulfils a childhood dream for the keeper who was born in Dussledorf, in Germany.

“I grew up watching English football and it was always a dream to play in this country,” he said. “It does still feel like it’s a bit of dream even now, so I need a few weeks of being around the training ground to remind me that I’m here now and I’ve made the step to English football.

“As a kid it was English football I wanted to play in and now I’m going to put the work in to make that happen.”

Having played football in Germany and Holland, what does he think are the major differences?

“I think the main differences between English football and the football I’ve played in are the fans and the stadium, as well as the history of English football. There is a lot of passion.

“There are also a lot of different styles and types of football within the English game. I’ve always thought it’s amazing.”

He’s obviously not the only new boy at the training ground this week – new head coach Rob Edwards also made his bow at London Colney.

“My first impressions of him are very good,” said Okoye. “I was reading a lot about him before I met him, and then this week in person it was even better. He took a lot of time to talk to all of us, he has time for all of us.

“We also need to perform for him. Having a coach who wants to get know us as people really helps because football is more than just a game and the position you play on the pitch. It’s more rounded than that, and it helps so much if the coach knows what sort of person you are and how you see football, your work, your life. This is what he is trying to figure out and I like that.”

Watford Observer:

The Nigerian international has been getting to work at London Colney this week

What part of being a goalkeeper does the 22-year-old like best?

“I love one-on-ones! For me there is nothing more beautiful than when a striker is in front of me and it’s me or him. I have to get the ball or fail.

“I like to be a presence in the air as well. I know the ball comes in the box a lot in the Championship and I enjoy that. Already in training we have started work on that aspect a lot. I’m happy to take a risk and come for the ball. It’s good to do that sometimes and not just play safe.”

Of course, modern goalkeepers are expected to be able to as comfortable with the ball on the ground as they are in the air.

“Having to play with the ball at your feet as a keeper is a lot about reading the game,” he explained.

“It’s taking up the right position. I have no problem with the fact that being a goalkeeper in today’s football is about a lot more than keeping the ball out of the goal. As a keeper I need to control the whole box at all times, but also be prepared to take control when the ball is outside the box.

“I like to watch other goalkeepers at the highest level and learn from what they do. The higher the standard they play in, the more they are expected to do with their feet inside and outside the box.”

Watford Observer:

The keeper is targeting promotion back to the Premier League

What about a goalkeeping hero?

“Easy...Dida! I don’t even need to think about that answer,” he said referring to the Brazilian legend who was capped 91 times for his country and made more than 200 appearances for AC Milan.

“When I was young I always wanted to be him. I loved AC Milan back then and he was a legend, a real beast in goal. People did call me the ‘young version of Dida’, which I liked.”

At 22, Okoye will be among one of the younger goalkeepers vying for first-team football in the Championship, but he has a refreshing perspective on being a fresh-faced stopper in a time when some keepers play on to their 40s.

“I think experience is the important thing, not your age,” he said. “You can be a young keeper like Gianluigi Donnarumma of Italy: he is 23 but he has the experience of a keeper who is 35-years-old.

“I’m not experienced like Donnarumma yet, I wouldn’t try to say that! But for me in general it’s not about how old you are, it’s about the experience you have of the game. What you make of the time you have on the pitch is important.

“If you keep learning and try to take good advice from every coach you have, you can be experienced at a young age.”

Looking ahead to next season, what does he think Watford can achieve?

“I think in every player’s head is going back up to the Premier League. It’s important to have ambition,” he said.

“On a personal level I just want to help fulfil that ambition for the other players and the club. The more playing time the better, but most of all I want to see myself grow as a person and a goalkeeper. If I can get playing time and improve then that is fantastic.”