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Troy Deeney has invited six former prison mates to Vicarage Road on Saturday to watch him captain Watford against Manchester United.
The striker served three months of a 10-month prison sentence in 2012 after admitting a charge of affray following a violent brawl in his home town of Birmingham which left four students injured.
At what would have been the low point of his career, Deeney told his fellow prisoners that he would rebuild his life and for the first time reach the Premier League, even when there were few guarantees he would play again as a professional.
Given that so many would regard captaining a team against United as the pinnacle, he has invited those friends to witness his proud moment, both to remind them of what he once told them and to say thank you to those who gave him the belief he required.
"I've got people coming down from there, my cellmates," said Deeney. "Six (friends).
"I told them it'd all come true: I do my best work when people doubt me the most.
"Friends (from that side of my life). People that helped me get through and helped me get motivated when I didn't really want to.
"I knew what I was going to do (in succeeding as a professional footballer). I can't say whether a team's gonna buy me or this team's gonna keep me or we're going to do this, (but) I know what I was going to do from that moment.
"I have (proved people wrong) all my life. When people write me off that's when I perform my best.
"Just knowing that it ain't gonna happen again (a return to prison). No matter what, people can push my buttons, people can push me to limits, it's not going to happen again, so... Most people talk, so why get angry about it? Just enjoy."
Deeney also recognises that, though he was only appointed in the summer, he also owes Quique Sanchez Flores.
The Spaniard became Watford's fifth manager in a year when he was appointed but he has since stabilised them and, while retaining Deeney, impressively developed a new-look team that ahead of hosting United are 11th in the Premier League after 12 games.
"He's the best I've worked with, and I'm not just saying that because we're doing well at the moment. I think the overall package, he's very good," Deeney said.
"Just how he is as a person. I am not going to say it is nothing to do with his managerial skills because that would feed into his managerial skills, but he is so good as a person.
"He can have serious conversations with you and then he can have a laugh and a joke with you - but you always know he is the boss.
"It is good to have a conversation with him. But he keeps you so close that you still feel like you would do anything for him.
"He can also go 'you're not doing that right or you need to do whatever extra' and you know he is the boss so that is probably the best thing about him."
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