Brendan Rodgers says he would not have left Watford for any other club but it is his dream to become just the second manager in Reading’s history to take them into the Premier League.

In an exclusive interview with the Watford Observer, Rodgers thanked the Hornets fans for their support, which he said was crucial in securing Championship survival, and hoped the Vicarage Road faithful would understand his decision as time wore on.

Rodgers was a big hit with the Watford fans after steering the club away from relegation but the relationship with some has turned sour following his departure.

The 36-year-old had been linked with the Reading job since Steve Coppell’s resignation on May 13, but he previously distanced himself from a return to his former club insisting he was ‘loyal’ to Watford and a man of ‘integrity’.

The fans have now criticised him for making such comments following yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement that he will be taking over the club he joined as a player at 16 and went on to coach for, for almost ten years.

However, he said: “I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that right up until last Friday, when Reading made an approach to Watford, that my full focus was on Watford and even up until yesterday [Wednesday], when the deal wasn’t completed, I had a meeting with [coach] Malky Mackay looking forward so my commitment to Watford never waivered.”

He added: “The speculation was going on for the last two months, and particularly in the last month, about the Reading job and I was mentioned with it but I found that disloyal to answer the speculation when I was in the Watford job.

“So despite all the speculation that surrounds football these days, my mind was clear on where we were going at Watford and it was only on Friday when there was an approach that I wanted to speak to Reading.”

The Royals director of football and close friend of Rodgers Nick Hammond made a formal approach to Watford last Friday, which was initially rejected.

The Hornets chairman Jimmy Russo dismissed their advances for four days but after Reading met a release figure in Rodgers’ contract and the Northern Irishman expressed his desire to talk to the Royals, Russo then attempted to negotiate as much compensation as possible.

By Tuesday the two clubs had agreed a fee which would land Watford more than £500,000 initially and the sum involved could rise to around £1m should Reading gain promotion.

Although it will not be announced initially, the Watford Observer understands assistant manager Dean Austin, football consultant Frank Lampard Snr and football physiologist Karl Halabi will also join the Royals eventually.

Rodgers used to often train with Reading from the age of 13 and officially signed for the club when he was 16.

He never played for the club as his career was ended by injury at 20 but he joined their coaching staff and became Academy director before moving to Chelsea in 2004.

He said: “I had been at Reading for a long time and left there only to go and work for the best day-to-day manager in the world in Jose Mourinho.

“So for me at Watford, I was happy and I was looking forward until Reading made the approach.

“I am a loyal person and people who know me will know that but Reading was an incredible opportunity for me and one that may not come again.”

He added: “I want to be only the second manager in the club’s history to take the club into the top flight. That is a big motivation to me.”

Rodgers insists he was happy at Watford and when asked whether he would have stayed if it was any other Championship club making the approach, he replied “Absolutely.”

He added: “Everything was happy in my life and I leave Watford with sadness for the supporters and the people of Watford because I felt a real connection and always will because it is part of my story.

“It is a part of my story that I will never forget and the decision to move to Watford was absolutely the right one.

“I am sure the supporters, once they have had a few days, will understand my decision. I will forever hold that period in my life as a special one.”