Picture the scene: you’ve got a new job lined up, you walk through your current place of work and your boss tells you he’s found out you’re leaving by hearing it on TV.

Embarrassing, uncomfortable and certainly far from the ideal scenario.

That is what happened to William Troost-Ekong though, when he was loaned to Salernitana at the end of last season.

And if you think that’s enough to make you cringe, imagine if your boss is the big, imposing figure of Slaven Bilic.

Troost-Ekong had asked to leave, and he revealed why in the previous part of this interview, but what he didn’t know was that despite Watford arranging and agreeing to the loan move, nobody had told Bilic.

“We were having breakfast in the hotel before the home game with Rotherham on January 21, and my agent called me to confirm that everything was agreed for the move to Italy,” the 30-year-old defender recalled.

“The night before I had spoken to Cristiano at the hotel and he said that he also believed everything had been agreed, so I knew it was all happening.

“As we were heading to our pre-match meal I saw it pop up on Sky Sports News, and then Slav pulled me to one side and asked me if it was right, what it was all about, and did I want to go.

“I said to him that I loved working with him and he’s a great manager, but I wanted to go. He wasn’t happy.

“I didn’t play that game and people might remember I walked around the stadium at the end waving at everyone, as that was my way of saying goodbye.”

Bilic made one final attempt to get Troost-Ekong to change his mind.

“The next morning I went to the training ground to pick up all my stuff, and Slav called me into his office,” he said.

“He had drawn up charts of all my playing time, and said I was his most used defender and gave me a lot of reasons why he wanted me to stay. He said he trusted me and he wanted to play me.

“I explained why I wanted to leave and that it had nothing to do with him, and that I had really enjoyed playing for him.

“But I said I just didn’t trust the club at that point and I had to choose what was best for me. I didn’t think I could progress any more at Watford and so I wanted to take the opportunity.

“He was upset at that, but I spoke to him again later and I think he understood my reasons.”

Watford Observer: William Troost-Ekong in Europa Conference League action for PAOKWilliam Troost-Ekong in Europa Conference League action for PAOK (Image: Action Images)

Although it was only a loan move, it was quite lucrative for Watford.

“The Salernitana move was something organised by my agent,” said Troost-Ekong.

“They paid a high loan fee which would normally commit them to take the buy option if we stayed in Serie A, which we did.

“The buy-in clause was £2.1m if I played ten games, with a three-year deal. Of course I got stuck on playing nine games.

“My last start was against Udinese of all teams, scoring the winner in 96th minute.”

Troost-Ekong was still keen to try and make the move to Salernitana a permanent one.

“I came back from Italy and tried to force through the transfer by asking Watford to lower the transfer fee,” he recalled.

“We couldn’t get that agreed and then I had my first meeting with Valerien Ismael.

“In that meeting was Ben Manga and his assistant Helena Costa, and I was just honest with them all.

“I try to be a straight shooter when I’m talking to people, because that’s the way I like people to deal with me too.

“I told them that I knew Val was a great manager, but my head wasn’t at Watford any longer and I didn’t want to stay.

“I said I had learned from my mistake in the previous summer window when I was impressed with Rob Edwards and said I’d stay, and ended up not playing.

“It felt best to be straight from the start and there would be no misunderstandings.

“Very quickly afterwards Cristiano Giaretta called me and said that I had to train with the Under-21s.

“I explained that I wasn’t making myself unavailable and while I was at Watford I would always give 100 per cent, but I wanted to make my intentions clear from the outset.

“I wanted to look for a solution that everyone was happy with. I didn’t expect to leave for free, but I did want to leave.

“The first club that came in was Panathinaikos, and they agreed a deal with Watford but I wasn’t happy with the personal terms.

“Then again after that I got another call from Cristiano telling me I needed to train with the Under-21s.

“He said if I wasn’t going to be part of the club anymore I needed to take this deal, but I said I wanted to leave on terms I was happy with. I didn’t see why my former sporting director should negotiate my next contract.

“This was still the start of July and so we had almost two months left of the window.

“Then two Italian clubs came in as well as PAOK, who were very keen. Their terms were what I was happy with and it was a three-year deal.

“I went to talk directly to Gino Pozzo. I have always had a lot of respect for him, as he took me to Italy and then brought me to Watford.

“I just asked him, man to man, if the club could let me go so that I could get on with my career with a new challenge.

“He said he understood, that it was a good deal all round and I think it was all agreed in the next day or so.”

Watford Observer: Mason Mount gets a pat on the head from the former Hornets defenderMason Mount gets a pat on the head from the former Hornets defender (Image: Action Images)

Did that mean he left Vicarage Road with a bitter taste in his mouth?

“No, not really, I’m an adult,” he said.

“As you get older you learn football is business. So much is sentimental but a lot of it is business.

“I have to protect my own interest and look after my career.

“I had a lot of happy times at Watford but I felt stagnant when I left and I didn’t really believe in the philosophy anymore because they were changing the head coach so much.

“I wanted to keep developing and I felt like after the Premier League season I took a step back.

“I felt I needed a new environment and to be playing regular football.

“The Spartak Moscow thing was probably the beginning of the end. It was really flattering to have such a big club offer me a lot of money, but it signalled to me that I wasn’t wanted.

“To be going to collect a takeaway one night and get a phone call saying the club was ready to agree to sell me was a shock.

“As a footballer, sometimes you have to put your business hat and be clever to try and give yourself the best chance.

“You want to play, to have a good contract and be somewhere you’re appreciated.

“At times the sentimental and romantic side of football has to go out of the window.”

However, Troost-Ekong has been back to Vicarage Road more than once since moving to Greece.

“I came to watch a game in November, and then I was at the game on Boxing Day with Bristol City.

“I had a lovely meeting that day with the legendary Ann Swanson, who had invited me to the game.

“I spoke to the lads afterwards, and even though it had been a bad result they were happy to catch up. It felt like coming home.”

And Troost-Ekong revealed that, one day relatively soon, Hertfordshire will become his forever home.

“I’ve just completed building our final family home in Cuffley,” he said.

“That was my project for the last three years which started when I signed for Watford.

“When I signed for Watford, to be honest, I was hoping to stay for the rest of my career.”

So, would he like to come back?

“Not right now. There are other things that I might want to do.

“But in the future I would like to come back to Watford, in one way or another.

“I speak to Tom Cleverley a lot and I’m really impressed with what he’s doing in the Academy.

“I think I could make quite a good sporting director too.

“Maybe I could come back and play one day, who knows. Watford is still a special club for me.”

Watford Observer: Troost-Ekong when 'I almost put a tap-in over the bar'Troost-Ekong when 'I almost put a tap-in over the bar' (Image: PA)

If anyone had any doubt to Troost-Ekong’s Watford allegiance before the Hornets played Luton at Vicarage Road in October 2022, they certainly could have had afterwards.

He took it upon himself to explain to the rest of the squad the significance of the game the night before, scored the second goal and then dished some of the finest public s***housery when Luton’s Gabriel Osho was sent off near the end of the famous 4-0 victory.

“The night before that game I called one of my infamous meetings with the players, and I just explained to them all how much this one game meant.

“I knew what this fixture meant to everyone connected with Watford, and I talked about my father-in-law and coming to games with him long before I played here.

“Then I remember walking out of the tunnel and I could just feel everyone was so charged.

“To then score as well – even though I almost put a tap-in over the bar – it made me feel that we were going to totally dominate them, and we did.

“Of course later on in the game came the wave to Osho when he got sent off. I hadn’t planned to do that obviously but the occasion, the moment and the adrenaline pumping through me made it happen.

“I know Osho scored when Watford went to Luton but he didn’t have a chance to get me back because I’d gone by then!

“I can’t say too much now because Luton are in the Premier League, but I think that was one of my highlights of my Watford career, together with the promotion and my Premier League debut win against Villa.”

Does it show that, although he didn’t come through the club’s Academy, Troost-Ekong is truly one of Watford’s own?

“I think it does, yeah.

“It was pure passion and how I felt in that moment. I couldn’t fake that. Watford is my club.”