Ashley Young is enjoying life in Italy at the moment. The veteran winger joined Internazionale last season from Manchester United and he has established himself as a key player for the team of Antonio Conte. Despite his key role in Milan, he would jump at the chance of moving back to England and especially to Watford, the club where he started his career.
Young won promotion to the Premier League in 2006 with Watford and then earned a transfer to Aston Villa the next year. “If I could go back and play [at Watford] again, I would walk from Italy right now because it’s what I know, it’s where I come from and it’s what allowed me to be who I am and get where I am,” he told the club’s podcast Golden Tales. It gave me a humble beginning.”
He would spend four years at Villa before signing at United and he now admits his career could have gone in a completely different way if he accepted an offer from Tottenham Hotspur or West Ham United ahead of Villa. “My agent coming to tell me about the interest, as a youngster you’re like: ‘Wow, that’s amazing to hear of teams of that stature wanting to talk to you’. But on the other hand, it was: ‘No, Watford is my club, I don’t want to leave. I’ve just got promotion with a club I started at when I was 10, I’m not ready to leave’.
“I know I’m an ambitious person, I know the Premier League is where I was going, bigger clubs, of course, but it’s not where I wanted to go. Eventually I wanted to go, but at the time it was: ‘No, this journey with Watford is still going, I’ve got unfinished business’. I sat down with Aidy [Boothroyd, then-Watford manager] and I said to him obviously there’s interest and he said to me: ‘There’s obviously interest in you’.”
“I said: ‘That’s all well and good, but until you turn around and tell me to leave, I’m not going anywhere, because of how I bought into the way you work, all these players, I love the club’. I loved everything about the club, to this day I love everything about the club. It’s what I say is home for me.” Throughout his career Young has made 589 professional appearances, spread over all the clubs he has played for. For Watford he played 107 games.