Iceland international striker Heidar initially signed for Watford in a club record £1.5 million deal in early 2000. His all action style of play made him a popular player with the fans, and in his final season he won the Player, Goal and Display of the Season awards. He left to join Fulham, but returned to the club on loan in 2009. In total, he played more than 200 games for the club, scoring 66 goals.
Now retired and running a B&B back in Iceland, Heidar spoke to Watford Legends while at QPR in 2012.
Hi Heidar. Thanks for talking to Watford Legends. It was Graham Taylor that signed you for Watford initially in 1999, how did the move come about?
I was playing in Norway at the time and Watford came to watch me in a few games. It was nothing more than that really, though I’m not sure how they became aware of me in the first place. But they watched me for a few games and then offered up the money that was required to sign me. It was as simple as that really, they obviously liked what they saw when they watched me play.
Were there any other clubs in for you at the time?
There were a few clubs being mentioned in the papers but at the time the only English club to show an interest in me was Watford.
Was it an easy decision to up sticks to come and play your football in the Premier League?
Yes it was, definitely. I had always wanted to play in England and Watford seemed a good club for me. Despite being the only offer on the table it still seemed a good move for me. I had always said to myself that if I had the chance to go to England then I would and luckily I got the chance.
You made your debut at home to Liverpool and managed to get on the score sheet as well.
Yes I remember it well; it was a good way to start and a fantastic memory of mine. It was a shame we didn’t manage to win as that would have topped it off completely. But nonetheless it was a good way for me to start my Watford career.
How did you find working for Graham Taylor?
Yes it was good, but I must admit I appreciated him a lot more as I got older. There was a time when he was giving me some stick which at the time I didn’t think was fair but looking back I have to say I deserved it and it was my fault, but looking back he was absolutely right. The second season, 2001, didn’t really go well for me and that was all my fault but when you are young and stupid you don’t necessarily see it that way.
Why do you think it was your fault that you had a below par season?
I don’t think my head was necessarily in the right place. After I had done quite well in the Premier League I thought I had arrived but that wasn’t the case. It took a while to dawn on me that I needed to keep proving I could play and that I needed to get my head down. Things didn’t go great for me that year but you live and learn and it helped me in the end as I knew I had to pull my finger out. But back to your question about Graham I liked him and I have a lot to thank him for as he showed a lot of trust in me to bring me over.
You had played in several countries before coming over but they were all in Scandinavia; how did you settle into life in England and English life?
Yes we settled in well. It took a bit of time to get to know the area and what have you. I did have a bit of an issue with the training ground as that was awful! It was the training ground at Stanmore and it was terrible.
In what way?
The pitches were awful, they were just mud. And the changing rooms were about 300 years old; I think they may have even been listed! But it was good when we moved to the new training ground which is great. But overall life in England takes some getting used to but once you do it is good.
Are there any games in particular that stand out for you from your time at Watford?
Yes a few. I remember the Southampton cup game well, and then also the cup semi-finals against Liverpool. Although we lost the occasion and everything else was great to be involved in. All the hype in the weeks before would have been something I would have hated to have missed out on. Overall there were quite a few really good games that we played in but the more memorable ones were mainly cup games.
You had a very good goal scoring record overall whilst you were at Watford and partnered a few different strikers. Who would you say was your favourite strike partner form your first spell at the Vic?
I can’t remember who I played with! Ha! I didn’t play much with Gifton as it tended to be me or him, not together. Tommy Mooney and me didn’t play together loads either. Smarty was great to play alongside and I enjoyed playing with Webber as well. Tommy Smith would probably be my first choice though. For me it is nice to lay the ball off to someone with pace so then I don’t have to run!
There was a little tale that went around that when you played five a side games in training Ray had to put you and Jay DeMerit on the same team as you were both so wholehearted he was worried you would crunch each other – is that true?
Ha! I can’t remember if any special point was made of that but it could well have been true! If it was done then it was done without telling us.
The Watford fans always seem to have held you in very high regard, how did you find your relationship with the fans?
Excellent, really good. I have never had any issue with any of them and they have been absolutely fantastic to me over the years. They are absolutely brilliant and that is a big reason why things went so well for me there over the years because I knew I had their support, and I knew the support was there even when things weren’t going well and trust me, that really helps.
It is well known that you enjoyed playing for Ray Lewington but you were also there for the Vialli era. How did you find that?
I found it was ok and I never had any problems with Luca. I thought he was good but it just never really worked out. He didn’t really fancy me as a player so I didn’t play very much but even then I never had a problem with him and like I said it just never really worked out for whatever reason. Even with all the investment that was made it just never took off but I suppose that is how things go sometimes.
And when Luca moved on and Ray took over, how did you find playing for him?
I loved it, no question. I absolutely loved it. In Ray I knew I had someone who really believed in me and at the time I think that was what I needed. He came in and told me I was his main man and that was great to hear. He was in charge of the Ressies when Luca was in so I had played a few games for him then so I knew what he was like and I know he was quite pleased with my application and everything else in those games. He really did me a lot of good after the Vialli era.
There was talk in 2005 when you left that you had turned down a new contract offer to stay, is that accurate?
I initially signed for the club in 2000, and signed a new deal in 2003 which I was happy with. I chatted to Ray about it and said I would be happy to stay and play for him if we could sort a new contract out, but there was never one put forward to talk about. When it came to 2005 I had a year left on my contract and the club decided to sell me. That was when Aidy Boothroyd had taken over as manager.
How did you find working for Aidy, albeit not for too long?
Yes it wasn’t long; I only played seven games for him I think but I really liked him. He came in and said that he was aiming for promotion the season after, he was very ambitious, but I’m not too sure many people believed him including some of the lads. But yes I got on really well with him and you could see he was really enthusiastic and that he would do well as it was his first managerial job. I think against everyone’s judgement he managed to get the club up and did a fantastic job.
When you came to leave the Vic you went to Fulham, how did it all happen?
After that season there were rumours from early spring if I remember right, teams were watching me and stuff. To be perfectly honest I was ready to move as I knew if an offer came in I would be allowed to move due to the money problems and my contract not being extended. Once the offer came in it really wasn’t something I could reject. I wanted to play in the Premier League and test myself. I had been at Watford for five and a half years as well. I had enjoyed some wonderful times but I wasn’t adverse to moving on and testing myself at a new level by then.
Were Fulham the only club in for you or did you have any other offers?
No I spoke to Wigan as well. In fact I spoke to them first and had the medical and everything when we got a call saying the Fulham offer had been accepted. So I said ‘thanks but no thanks’ to Wigan and then travelled down to London.
I bet Wigan were a bit upset having put you through a medical already?!
Yes they were. After I had told their Chief Executive that I wasn’t going to sign I then had to sit with him for half an hour in a helicopter on the way back to London, and I have to say it wasn’t the most comfortable half an hour I have ever had!
Did Aidy try to sign you permanently when Watford got back into the Premier League?
He called me and we had a brief chat but it never really went anywhere. I am not sure if an offer was made or not but as far as I am aware it was just that one phone call and nothing happened after that.
We mentioned earlier just what a brilliant relationship you have with the Watford fans but there was one night when you came back to the Vic with Fulham and bagged a couple of goals in a 3-3 draw. Your celebrations in front of the Rookery seemed to annoy a few fans that night. Do you remember the night?
Yes I do. I was desperate not to lose, as ever, and I think we were 2-0 down at one point, we then went 3-2 up and Youngy equalised late on if I remember correctly. I think I equalised and then also scored our third to give us the lead.
It was an emotional night for me. It was the first time I had come back to Watford with an opposing team, and when you equalise and then put a team in the lead with only about five minutes to go then your emotions can run away with you and that is what happened that night. By me celebrating like that it certainly doesn’t mean I have any less respect for Watford fans, definitely not, but I can’t see the problem with it if I am perfectly honest. If I did offend anyone then I genuinely apologise. I’ve always celebrated my goals whoever I score against.
You came back on loan in 2009 under Malky and had another goal scoring debut.
Yes I came on, scored two and then went off injured with an injury that kept me out for six weeks!
I wasn’t having the best of times at QPR when there was a new manager every other week and other shit going on, so when the opportunity came up it seemed sensible to take it. It worked out really well for me and I think I done ok again for the club and the fans. The season after that Warnock took over at QPR and pulled me back. If the loan move to Watford hadn’t happened I can’t say for certain that I would have stayed at QPR so I am really pleased I done it and it worked out well for both parties. I really enjoyed it.
How are you finding things currently for QPR?
I was doing OK and scoring a few goals but then I picked up an injury which has disrupted me a bit but I am on the mend now. It has gone well for me personally but we are in a bit of a precarious situation currently which we need to try and get out of. I enjoyed working for Warnock and he is a good guy, but people move on and that is the business we are in. We now have a new manager and early impressions are that he is really good. His preparation and training methods are really impressive. If we manage to stay up this year then the future is pretty bright for QPR I think.
Finally, would you ever rule out a final move back to Watford for one last spell?
No I definitely wouldn’t rule it out. I have only ever had good times there so I would never rule it out.
Well we would be happy to see you in a Watford shirt again. Thanks Heidar.
You’re welcome. Cheers guys.
Quick Fire Round
|Favourite Ground (apart from the Vic)|
|Best Ever Player|
|Team you supported as a boy|
|Favourite Holiday Destination|
|Favourite TV Show|
|Take Me Out
|Dumb and Dumber|
|Never happier than when|
|I'm at home with my family|
|Desert Island Woman|