He’s the tall man, silver haired, often wearing a long coat and regularly seen with the likes of the head coach, the chairman and the owner.

Yet even Gino Pozzo has said more publicly than sporting director Cristiano Giaretta – until now.

The Italian sat with our Watford FC correspondent Andrew French to give his first extensive interview since he joined the club in the summer of 2020.

Over the course of a series of articles that total more than 7,000 words, Giaretta will talk about:

- His playing career and then becoming a sporting director

- How he came to work for the Pozzo family

- What brought him to Watford

- Why he knew all about the club before he arrived

- Settling into the new role during a pandemic, but getting promoted

- The disastrous season back in the Premier League

- The failed appointments of Ranieri and Hodgson

- His view on whether he actually lost his job or not last summer

- Why the Ben Manga experiment failed from his perspective

- The changes behind the scenes this summer

- What his role actually is on a day-to-day basis

- The exact part he plays in recruitment and transfers

- His view on Mogi Bayat

- How he feels when he’s criticised for failed signings

- Is he a ‘Pozzo spy’ at the training ground?

- What can fans expect in the January transfer window?

- Why has he talked to Italian media, but never to English press before this?

- The message he has for Watford fans

With an international break meaning there is no men’s football to watch, Hornets fans have the chance to learn more about a man who has been omnipresent while head coaches and players have come and gone – and yet he himself has been a key figure in appointing and signing them.

Hired twice by Pozzo after a playing career in Italy that never went beyond Serie B but which did see him amass more than 450 professional appearances, Giaretta can also take credit in his career as a sporting director for signing two players for next to nothing who went on to more command than €100m in transfer fees each and played in the Premier League, Champions League and for their countries.

He's been a bit of a man of mystery since he joined, often criticised and even ridiculed by fans.

But now Cristiano Giaretta has spoken in depth.

The first part of his interview will be published on this website this afternoon.