(Reuters) - Watford captain Troy Deeney said going to prison was a blessing in disguise that helped him rethink his life as he prepares now to lead the club into their second ever FA Cup final against Manchester City on Saturday.
Deeney, 30, who served three months of a 10-month sentence in 2012 following a conviction for affray, has since become a folk hero at the club, helping them earn promotion to the Premier League in 2015 and guiding them to 11th this season.
He scored as Watford beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 after extra time of a memorable FA Cup semi-final to reach the final for the first time in 35 years and Deeney is eager to collect his medal from Britain’s Prince William.
"It's one of them games when, looking back on it now, from my background to meeting royalty and stuff, it's mental really when you think about it," Deeney told ESPN in an interview here
“When I got to jail, it was a blessing in disguise because it made me re-evaluate and check who I am as a person.
“It opened up new avenues... such as seeing a psychologist and having to deal with my problems because I used to drink a lot as well. I used to think I was dealing with things, but I was drinking and that kind of went into a spiral effect.”
Deeney is aware of the daunting task facing Watford in their attempt to deny Premier League champions and League Cup winners City a unique domestic treble.
“We’re massive underdogs, but at the same time, I’m hugely proud of the achievement,” Deeney added.
“For me, it’s no fear. Look at everything we just spoke about. Football isn’t going to scare me or playing against City... because of everything I’ve been through.”
Watford lost 2-0 to Everton in 1984 in their previous appearance in the FA Cup final.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir