First Team 1 week ago

Kabasele: “I’ve Found Everything In Watford”

Christian Kabasele has had quite the journey to arrive in the Premier League with the Hornets. Discussing his story so far in the latest Pro File, the defender said he now feels right at home living and working in Watford.

“I live in the town, but for me I’m surprised that people are surprised when I say I live in Watford!” he said. “For me it’s normal, I’m living ten minutes from the stadium and without traffic it’s 15 minutes from the Training Ground.

“So, there is nothing to be surprised about that I’m living in Watford, it’s a good town, there is a lot to do, there are good restaurants and there is always something to do with the kids.

“Sometimes [I get stopped for photos], it’s normal and part of the game. It’s always a pleasure to give this to the fans because sometimes at the stadium it can be difficult for them to be close to us.”

Kabasele is a truly likeable member of the team and a real family man, so it’s no surprise that one member of the next generation of the Kabasele family is already a budding Hornet.

“As soon as I open my eyes [in the morning] the journey is on for me and I’m in a good mood straight away,” said the 28-year-old. “The funny thing is, my son is like this as well. When he wakes up, he starts to scream and sing and several times I’ve heard him sing the Watford song in his bed, ‘Since I Was Young’. He just starts to sing the song when he wakes up – it’s funny!”

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kabasele’s family relocated to Belgium when he was a young child. The Belgium international credits his opportunities and achievements to the sacrifice his parents made all those years ago.

“If they didn’t [move to Belgium] then I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have the life I have today,” he said. “The situation at that moment was really difficult, there was a lot of robbery and violence, so they made the decision [to move] to give us a better chance for life. I’m proud of what they did for us because they left their family and parents behind them to give us a good chance for life.

“It’s quite unbelievable in five years how my life changed. Even when I was in the first division in Belgium I was dreaming about this, but I didn’t see it coming so fast. I was dreaming about the Premier League and now I’m playing here, I was dreaming about being involved in the national team and I’ve done this as well. It’s quite amazing.”

First Team 1 week ago

Pearson: “We Are Going To Need Everybody”

By Kevin Affleck

Nigel Pearson will place the same demands on the players he picks for tonight's FA Cup tie, challenging them to seize their opportunity and finish off the job they started at Vicarage Road.

The Head Coach has made no secret of the fact he will make changes for the third-round replay at Prenton Park against Tranmere as it comes two days after an energy-sapping win at Bournemouth and four days before what is likely be a demanding game against Tottenham Hotspur.

The amount of rotation will become clear an hour before kick-off, but Pearson makes no apologies whatsoever for his approach as he was brought in with a remit to keep the club in the Premier League.

“The turnaround is not easy,” he said. “But that's the climate we are working in and I have to prioritise because our status in the Premier League is the priority. But the priority right now is the preparation for this game and we will endeavour to give the game the respect it deserves. I can't sit here and say it's the main priority as it's not.

“It's our next game, we want to win it and we had the opportunity to do that at home and we didn't see the job through. One of the benefits of that day is we learnt more about our players. It's unfortunate we were unable to finish the job off first time round. We give them credit because they showed a lot of spirit in the second half. It's an opportunity for both sides to progress and we are going to make sure the team out there is picked with the view to players getting pitch exposure. A number of players have been limited with game-time this season so it will be useful for them. Young players will also get an opportunity, so it's good for them, too.”

Pearson will not have any injured players back for the game with Tranmere and instead will rely largely on those who played in the first game at Vicarage Road that ended 3-3.

“We have a number of players unavailable,” he said. “It will be nice to get them back throughout this month and next month. That would be great. That will give us more depth. It's important to have as many available as possible. What is important is the players who do play utilise their opportunity to show what they are capable of. We are going to need everybody.”

That inclusive, all-for-one mentality has underpinned everything Pearson and Craig Shakespeare have done since they walked in just over a month ago. It is an approach that has reaped 13 points out of the last 15 and lifted the team out of the bottom three for the first time this season. But Pearson wants more, much more.

“As far as I'm concerned, we are doing okay,” he said.  “We've had an upturn in results, in performances because of the commitment and application of the players. They have found ways of winning games. I'm part of it, Craig is a part of it and the rest of the staff are a part of it. There is a long way to go. We've got off to a reasonable start – it's caught us up to the pack, that's all it's done.

“We've got to show the intent and the desire and application in every single game otherwise the hard work in these first few weeks is in vain. I'm experienced enough to understand we have a difficult job ahead still, but I'm pleased with the squad of players we have – not just ability and chemistry, but their desire to try and change our fortunes. We've started to fulfil the potential we have. Now the challenge is to maintain that here on in.”