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12th May 2018

It’s been five years to the day since one of the greatest counter-attacking goals of all time

Here's Hogg... DEENEY

Reuben Pinder

Pure, unadulterated limbs

What is the best thing in football? Goals, obviously, but what type of goal? The correct answer is not a long distance screamer or a diving header. The correct answer is a counter-attacking team goal. There is no sight more beautiful than seeing every pass in a counter attack perfectly timed before the ball bulges against the net. Five years ago today, Watford scored one of the best ever.

Let me set the scene. It’s stoppage time in the 2012/13 play-off semi-final second leg. The score is 2-1 to Watford, 2-2 on aggregate, and the game is heading into extra time. Anthony Knockeart wins a penalty as he tumbles to the floor after feeling a slight touch on his shoulder. This is it. He’s been handed a spot in the play-off final on a silver platter, all he has to do is score from 12 yards. But Manuel Almunia has other ideas and pulls of a spectacular double save, before the ball is cleared. Heartbreak for Knockeart, but there is still a minute to play.

Watford surge up the pitch one last time. Ikechi Anya bursts down the right and plays the ball inside to Fernando Forestieri, who manages to float a cross in to the back post. This whole counter attack has taken about five seconds. Leicester can’t keep up, still wondering what happened at the other end.

“Here’s Hogg… DEENEY.”

Suddenly, a chance appears. Jonathan Hogg is unmarked in the box, so Kasper Schmeichel charges out in an attempt to avert danger, but to no avail. Hogg, with incredible calmness, knocks the ball down to Watford’s talisman, Troy Deeney, who lashes it past the helpless Leicester defenders standing between him and the goal. Deeney wheels away, shirt off, and leaps straight into the stand to celebrate with the jubilant home fans. Vicarage road erupts. Limbs are flying everywhere. It’s magical.

Deeney hadn’t started the season for Watford, not ruled out through injury, but because he was in prison. His redemption was capped off with this goal, sending Watford to Wembley.

Watford lost the final to Crystal Palace, but this moment remains one of the greatest in the club’s history.

“When I’m older I can look back on it. Even though we went on to lose to Crystal Palace in the final, the fans still have that day.… That goal does prove that it’s never done until it’s done. That goal shows the magic and beauty of football. It’s why we love it, for moments like that” – Troy Deeney in Tales From The Vicarage.