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Troy Deeney joins Birmingham following emotional Watford exit and West Ham sign Vlasic and Kral

Deeney confirmed on Monday night that his 11-year spell with the Hornets had come to an end.

Troy Deeney.
Troy Deeney.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Aug 31st 2021, 10:46 PM

TROY DEENEY HAS signed a two-year deal with boyhood club Birmingham following his emotional exit from Watford.

The 33-year-old striker spoke of his sadness and pride on Monday evening after confirmation that his 11-year spell with the Hornets had come to an end.

His contract had been due to expire at the end of the season, but he departed as a free agent and was swiftly unveiled by Birmingham, subject to league clearance.

And the lifelong Blues fan was keen to point out the move was “not a swansong” as he embarked on his “biggest task to date”.

He told Birmingham’s website: “Everyone knows that this is my team, I’ve made that clear in the past, but if I was going to join Blues it had to be right for all parties.

“I believe in the existing project here and, having spoken to the gaffer and Craig (Gardner), can clearly visualise my role in the squad.

“There is an added pressure playing for the club you support, carrying that greater weight of expectation. But pressure is what I thrive on, it’s what I have dealt with throughout my career, proving people wrong and silencing the naysayers, but I am very aware this is my biggest task to date.

“Now it is time to do that once again. This is not a swansong. This is my next chapter, and it is time to work.”

Speaking in a video message posted by the Hornets and the player himself on social media, Deeney earlier outlined his mixed emotions at leaving Vicarage Road.

He said: “It’s weird being asked to express my feelings for Watford Football Club and the emotions attached to leaving this wonderful place.

“I feel sadness and a loss similar to losing a family member.

“I feel excitement about my new journey and what’s to come in the future.

“Most of all I feel tremendous pride at what I’ve achieved over the last 12 years and the friendships and connections we’ve made – the people, staff, fans. Watford has literally changed my life.”

Deeney joined Watford from Walsall in 2010 and went on to make 419 appearances and score 140 goals for the club, twice captaining them to promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.

The player, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for affray in 2012, continued: “Watford is a small part of Planet Earth but, for some of the most turbulent years of my life, it was the centre of my universe and I couldn’t have wished for better supporters holding me up, and I have been truly honoured to be the captain of that club and the fans’ representative on the pitch.”

Hornets chairman Scott Duxbury told the club’s website: “Through the many highs and the occasional lows, Troy Deeney’s name has been inextricably linked for 11 years with Watford Football Club.

“I believe we have been good for him and I know he has been incredibly good for us.”

West Ham have strengthened their squad ahead of a busy season which will take in Europa League action, with the signing of Croatia’s Nikola Vlasic and Czech Republic international Alex Kral.

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The 23-year-old Vlasic – known to Premier League fans for a short stint at Everton – has 26 caps and six goals for his country.

He joins from CSKA Moscow, having been named Russian Premier League player of the year in 2020.

Czech Republic international Kral has joined on a season-long loan from Spartak Moscow, with the option to make the move permanent at the end of the campaign.

The 23-year-old links up with compatriots Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal at the London Stadium and featured for his country at Euro 2020 this summer.

Hammers boss David Moyes is pleased to secure the services of Kral, telling the official club website: “He will provide good competition in the centre of midfield.

“He is another young, talented player who we feel has a big potential and will be capable of adapting to the demands of the Premier League.

“We’ve brought him in on loan initially and, hopefully, over the course of the season he will make a valuable contribution, particularly with our busier schedule of fixtures.

“Alex is another established international player with the Czech Republic, and we hope he has similar characteristics and hunger to that of Tomas and Vladimir.”

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