The lads were PATER­SON KEEN TO STAY AT ex­cited about BURNLEY a new sea­son. Iwas­sat­in­jail

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

the most of his tal­ent. “The one good thing about be­ing in­side is that peo­ple don’t bulls***,” says Deeney, a brick­layer be­fore join­ing Wal­sall at 18.

“There were plenty of harsh words said to me. Not in an ag­gres­sive way, just in a no-non­sense:‘Get your head to­gether’ way. Peo­ple ba­si­cally said: ‘What are you do­ing in here, you tit?”

“They’d say: ‘We’re here be­cause we’ve got no qual­i­fi­ca­tions, no prospects. We do th­ese things be­cause we’ve got no choice.You do’. It was a case of see­ing my­self from the other side and re­al­is­ing what a good life I had.”

So some nice guys? “No, no,” he says wryly. “They are bad peo­ple. They’re not in there tick­ling each oth­ers’ stom­achs. But they’re all hu­man and they do have a good side, like all of us.

“When I couldn’t be both­ered to go in the gym be­cause the food weren’t the best or I wasn’t feel­ing well, they were the ones who said: ‘Come on, get your arse in gear’. In a way, I owe those guys a lot.”

Though he seems un­af­fected – af­fa­ble and quick to laugh, he is the un­doubted joker in Watford’s pack – Deeney says prison was far from easy. “If you’re not men­tally strong, it can be a very hor­ri­ble place,” he adds. “And ev­ery­body who goes to prison has hard times, me in­cluded.

“I’d just lost my dad be­fore I went in. I’d buried him two weeks to the day be­fore I got sen­tenced. I spent my birth­day there, which wasn’t nice. I missed my friends and my fam­ily.

“I just read a lot, did a lot of cour­ses. I did first aid, level one coach­ing, English and maths – just things to keep my mind ac­tive and stave the bore­dom off.

“I wrote a lot as well: let­ters, di­aries. Not so much what was hap­pen­ing but my thoughts about what I wanted to do when I came out.


“As a re­sult, I’m in the process of sort­ing out a char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion now. I’d had a few ideas over the years about what I wanted to do but never really acted on it. In prison, all you’ve got is time, so you may as well use it.”

That time came to an end af­ter four months in Septem­ber last year. Re­leased on the Mon­day, he was called by Watford on the Wed­nes­day and sum­moned to train­ing.

“That was the first time I’d been told face to face that they still wanted me,” he says.“Though I’m sure that if I’d come back a big bal­loon, they’d have thought :‘There’s no way we’re wait­ing for him to get fit!’ When I came back, the boss (Gian­franco Zola) said to me: ‘You’re not go­ing to play straight­away’. I think they thought I’d be quite far be­hind be­cause I’d had no pre-sea­son.

“But I was ac­tu­ally fit­ter than I was be­fore I went in­side. I was faster on the sprint tests, got fur­ther on the bleep tests. It was a shock to me as much as to them.

“So we had a friendly against QPR in the week, then on the Satur­day I was back. It was 12 days from leav­ing prison to be­ing in the first team.”

And it could get even bet­ter than that. A rev­e­la­tion since his re­turn to the side, Deeney has scored 16 goals and struck up a prolific part­ner­ship with Cham­pi­onship Player of the Year Matej Vy­dra.

Last week­end’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff left the Hor­nets just three points be­hind Hull in the sec­ond au­to­matic pro­mo­tion place – mean­ing Deeney could go from prison to the Pre­mier League in less than 12 months. Has it crossed his mind?

“Are you mad?” he re­torts. “No way. I’ve only been out of prison six months. In Au­gust, I didn’t even know if I’d have a ca­reer so I could never have dreamed then that I’d be in with a chance of play­ing in the Pre­mier League. I’m not think­ing about the fu­ture – I’m just mak­ing the most of ev­ery sec­ond.” MARTIN Pater­son is keen to ex­tend his stay at Burnley, and reck­ons the Clarets still haven’t seen the best of him.

Since ar­riv­ing at Turf Moor back in 2008 for £1mil­lion, Pater­son’s ca­reer with the club has been blighted by in­jury.

How­ever the striker has en­joyed a rel­a­tively in­jury-free time this year and has al­ready fea­tured in more Cham­pi­onship games this sea­son than ever be­fore.

And af­ter suf­fer­ing rel­e­ga­tion from the Pre­mier League with Burnley in 2009, the 25year-old wants to get a new con­tract sorted out so that he can get on with his “un­fin­ished busi­ness” with the Lan­cashire club.

“At the moment talks are on­go­ing and they’ve been on­go­ing for a while now. I think it will come to a head very soon,” Pater­son said.

“Un­fin­ished busi­ness is the right way to put it. I don’t think Burnley fans have seen the best of me.

“My best foot­ball pos­si­bly for Burnley was in the Pre­mier League. I was pos­si­bly at the top of my game. When I came back from my knee in­jury it was prob­a­bly the best I've been.”

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