Midfielder Micah was signed by Graham Taylor in the summer of 1997. He went on to enjoy two successive promotions as the club reached the Premier League for the first time. He spent seven years at the club, leaving for Burnley in 2004.
Most recently playing for Ware, Micah spoke to Watford Legends in 2009.
Hi Micah, thanks for talking to Watford Legends. How did your move from Cambridge United to Watford come about?
I remember I was the youngest captain in the country at the time and there were a few clubs interested in me. I spoke to a few but when I went to talk to Watford I really liked what I saw and what Graham Taylor had to say and just ended up staying!
Who were the other clubs that were interested in you?
Sheffield Wednesday were having a sniff, Villa were half interested and Coventry were keen as well. I chose Watford as I knew I had a better chance of first team football there than at any of the other clubs at the time. It turned out that it was the right decision and worked out well, very well in fact.
Did it take you long to settle in?
I settled in immediately really. It’s a nice family club and everyone makes you feel welcome, the players were really welcoming and it makes moving clubs a lot easier.
It must have helped that you were one of quite a few new boys brought in over that summer.
Yeah there were quite a few of us that signed on in a short period of time and you’re right, it does help you settle in. It was like a whole new team had signed!
How did you enjoy playing alongside Richard Johnson?
Out of all the partnerships I have had the one I had with Richard was the best. I think we complimented each other well as we had a really good understanding. It was a successful partnership and I loved playing alongside him.
You played your part in some great Watford times, what would be the highlight of your time here?
Wembley, without a doubt. When we were in the tunnel we already knew that we were going to win the game. We had a feeling amongst us that it was ours and we went out and followed that feeling up out on the pitch. That would be the highlight for me, winning at Wembley and getting to the Premiership.
Do you remember much of the game? A few of the players we have spoken to have said that sometimes big games can be a bit of a blur and they don’t take much of the day in.
I remember a fair bit of it. I certainly remember Wrighty’s goal! I remember more of the game than I do of a lot of other games in my career, including some of the other big games I have played in.
That win meant a crack at the big time, how did you find playing in the Premier League?
I loved it, and I didn’t find it too difficult to be honest! Certainly the best football I played for Watford was in the Premiership, it is a great stage to play your football on and I managed to score a few goals as well.
Before the season started in the Premiership how confident were you and the players of staying up?
Yeah we believed we could, definitely. We knew it would be difficult but we knew what we were capable of and I think we gave it a good shot but unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.
I remember you having a bit of a bust up with Nicky Butt when we played Manchester United at home.
Yeah we had a bit of handbags and both ended up getting sent off, I think that may have been in the cup – I’m not sure. He was getting frustrated, probably because I was running rings round him! He kicked out and I retaliated which I shouldn’t have done. After he kicked out we had a little ‘coming together’ and I raised my arm and that’s why I got sent off. I shouldn’t have done it though, it was silly. If I had kept my cool a bit more I would have got booked at worst and he would have walked. I remember Graham Taylor sitting me down afterwards and telling me not to take the bait and that as a footballer I have to handle those things better and he was right.
You managed to get on the score sheet a few times whilst at Watford, any goals that stand out for you?
I remember getting a couple up at Blackburn that were nice, but probably the best one was at home to Bolton. It sailed in the top corner and it was around the time my first son was born so we celebrated with the baby cradling celebration. I’ve still got the picture of us celebrating!
You played in all of the top three divisions for Watford, is there one that stands out where you really felt you could make the most of it?
It sounds silly but I found the Premiership the easiest league to play in but I have played most of my career at Championship level and that is the one I am most experienced in so the Championship would be my answer to that.
But I always found that the higher you go up the easier it is to play in the division. You get a lot more time on the ball in the Premiership so if you’ve got anything about you then you can express yourself a lot more at that level.
Did you ever find yourself star struck when you came up against the big name players?
I never got star struck. I admired them and respected them but I never got start struck. As a midfielder I was just trying to be as good as the likes of Vieira and Scholes because they were so good but when you are playing against them you have to concentrate on winning your battle.
How did you enjoy playing under GT?
I loved it. He was a great man manager. We had some really successful times under Graham Taylor. Even when we got relegated from the Premier League we were made to remember what a tremendous achievement is what to get there in the first place. Although we wanted to stay up there I still don’t see it as a blip on my career. My career had been good up to joining Watford but then Graham Taylor took me up to the next level and I will always be grateful for that. He always got you in the right frame of mind for games, he was a top man.
Was he the best manager you have had?
Yes, and he is also the manager I have played under for the longest. He taught me so much about discipline and how to play the game and even now I look back on things that he told me that I maybe didn’t take in at the time but I realise what he means now and are still helping me now. There are so many things where you look back and realise how right he was. So yes in answer to your question, he is the best manager I have ever played under despite the fact that I have played under a lot of good managers.
What was the sequence of events up to you leaving in 2004?
I remember Ray was the gaffer then and the club was in a bit of a transitional stage. Looking back I would have liked to have stayed longer but my contract was coming to an end and all I was told was that they would probably be able to offer me something. Other club were interested in me at that time as well. I remember Ray sat me down and told me what clubs were interested and what terms they could offer me, and he also told me it was a lot more than Watford would be offering me. It was all done nicely but I just got the impression that they weren’t too bothered if I stayed or not. I didn’t feel wanted.
I was well aware that after the Vialli era where a lot of money was being paid out – I’m not saying that is Vialli’s fault by the way – the club were trying to cut back and get everything in line. I wouldn’t say they showed me the door but they pushed the door open ready for me to go, which is how it felt at the time.
What made you choose Burnley?
Crystal Palace had offered me a pre-contract and it was a good contract. I was all ready to go and do the deal with them as it suited me but then they went a bit quiet and it didn’t seem right.
Then Steve Coterill phoned me and told me he wanted to sign me straight away. He then told me what he was looking to achieve up there and it all sounded good. I had a chat with my family and they were okay with it. Maybe I was getting a bit too comfortable at Watford, I felt like I needed a fresh start and that was what Burnley were offering me. I had some good times at Burnley and played some good football, I enjoyed it there. I was lucky that my family took to it there and settled in quickly, that made me happy and now I can look back and be pleased that I went there.
Having been in London my whole life it was bold to take my young family up to a different part of the country all together but we all loved it.
You are now plying your trade at Barnet and are the old man of the team…
I’m only 35! Furs is the old man of the team, he saves me from having that tag! I am the third oldest there so I prefer to see myself as a ‘senior’ player! Gary Breen is there as well so by having us three playing it gives an experienced backbone to the team which helps as the rest of the team is quite young.
Running up and down that hill must be tough?
It’s not too bad! You don’t actually feel the slope too much and it helps that the surface is beautiful. If you took the slope away it wouldn’t be Barnet really, it is known for the slope at Underhill. I think you only really feel the slope if you are losing, but if you are winning you never feel it!
Are you enjoying your time there?
Yes I am. We had a great start but then we had a little blip. Defensively we haven’t been lucky with injuries. I have played at League Two level before with Peterborough and got promoted so I have half an idea what is needed to get out of the division – fingers crossed we can turn it round for the second half of the season.
What are your plans moving forward? Will you play another season after this one?
I will play for as long as I can. I can still get about a bit and I am enjoying my football. My legs will tell me when they can’t take anymore but until that comes I will keep going.
Have you got any idea what you would like to do when the time comes to hang your boots up?
A lot of the players go down the coaching road and I would like to as well. I have got a couple of badges and am working to get more as I would like to stay in the game. I can see myself standing on the other side of the touchline!
But you never know with football so I have got another interest and that is my financial business that I am setting up. Hopefully it should be all done by the middle of this year. It is with football in mind still though as it is to look after pensions and loans of footballers and other sportsmen really. A financial management company to help footballers.
In ten years time…
I would like to be on the touchline trying to motivate players and getting things tactically right, with my business taking care of itself and me being in a position where I can look after my family.
Well good luck and thanks for your time.
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