EXCLUSIVE - Dean Austin speaks about his time at Watford FC
Dean Austin has said he looks back on his time at Watford with 'fondness and proudness' after leaving the club at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Austin spent 18 months at Vicarage Road as assistant manager to both Slavisa Jokanovic and Quique Sanchez Flores, helping the Golden Boys secure promotion to the top-flight and a 13th place finish in the Premier League last season.
In his first interview since leaving the club, Austin said he was proud to be a part of what the Golden Boys have achieved, in what has been a whirlwind 18 months for the Hertfordshire club.
"It was very enjoyable from a point of view that it is a club I have had an affiliation with since I was 12 years old. That was 34 years ago, which is a long time. It's a very special club to me and I am very proud of the achievements that we have achieved in 18 months.
"I look back at my time at the club and I'm proud to have been part of what we achieved. We were 30 seconds away from winning the Championship and we survived in the Premier League at a canter. We were safe at the turn of the year and maybe that was the problem for us. We were maybe a victim of our own success and perhaps we were too successful too quickly, especially during the first half of the season.
"But it's football, as results lead to expectation. In the Premier League you have to live up to that expectation. But I have to admit, I just look back on my time with Watford with fondness, with happiness and proudness."
Austin was one of Quique Sanchez Flores' assistants in the Premier League last season and the 46-year-old said he enjoyed working with the likeable Spaniard.
"Quique is a fantastic guy. How you see him in his interviews and on the TV and after the games is exactly how he is in real life. He is very authentic and he is a terrific guy to work with. He appreciates the support he is given and supports you as well. He is a very humble and is just like any ordinary person."
Austin returned to Watford in January 2015, with the Hornets in sixth place in the Championship. Within six months, the Hornets had earnt promotion to the Premier League and to this day, many fans credit the appointment of Austin as one of the many reasons why the Golden Boys earnt promotion to the top flight.
The Hornets' victory over Brighton in April 2015 will be one that will always remain in the hearts and minds of Watford supporters. In what was a phenomenal day for the club, Matej Vydra scored a crucial last minute goal to secure a 2-0 win over the Seagulls.
Later in the day, the Hornets learnt that they had secured promotion to the Premier League, sparking fantastic celebratory scenes on both the team coach and in the town and Austin admits that the victory over the Seagulls is one of the highlights of his career.
"I've had a lot of highs in my career. In my playing career, I've won promotions, I've won at big stadiums, I've got to cup finals and I've won leagues and promotions as a coach as well. I think the biggest high for me would be the last one I would describe as a top achievement. That would be Brighton away with Watford, when we won 2-0 and learnt that we earned promotion later on in the day.
"I had some great highs last year with Watford. For a club of Watford's size to beat Newcastle United three times in one year is massive really. To beat Liverpool 3-0 as well is superb. But my biggest high point would be when Watford beat Brighton and we won promotion."
To read the full interview, which includes Austin's thoughts on his future plans as well as other moments from his playing and coaching career, please head over to Careersinfootball.com.