Forest Green have signed former Premier League star Troy Deeney in a player-coach role after he was released by hometown club Birmingham City this summer.
Deeney twice gained promotion to the Premier League as captain of Watford over an 11 year period before a two year stay at the club he has supported since he was a child.
Deeney will support Head Coach David Horseman and his assistant Louis Carey after completing his UEFA A-Licence.
Rovers head coach David Horseman worked alongside Deeney when he was under 23s manager at Watford between 2014 and 2017 and the pair were seen in conversation following the final whistle of the 2-1 home defeat to Swindon Town, with Horseman describing the striker as “a good friend” who was “very complimentary about (Forest Green’s) style of football”.
After making the move to The New Lawn, Deeney said: “It’s really exciting to be here. I came to the game on Tuesday and got a real sense of what the club is all about. I’ve always kept an eye on Forest Green anyway and have great admiration for the Chairman and what the club stands for.”
“It’s about the next 10 years, not the next 10 months. This is the start of a new journey and I’m really excited.”
Club Chairman, Dale Vince, added: “It’s amazing to welcome Troy here, both as a player and as a coach. He’ll be a fantastic addition to us here at FGR and we’re super excited to have him.”
David Horseman said: “We are absolutely delighted to get a player of Troy’s calibre. Troy brings us an ability to take the ball under pressure and bring others into the game. We know he is a proven goalscorer but also a creator for others.
“He is very much part of our coaching team and we will do everything we can to help him on his coaching journey.”
Forest Green have bolstered their attack already this summer, with former Bristol City striker Matty Taylor signing on a permanent deal and Matty Stevens returning from his loan spell at Walsall to start all four of this season’s matches alongside Tyrese Omotoye, who scored his first Rovers goal this month after signing in January.
Dale Vince yesterday teased on social media that a new “player and a coach” would be signing for the Nailsworth club on Thursday.
Deeney, now 35, was born in Birmingham and began his professional career at Walsall in 2006 before a loan spell at Southern League side Halesowen Town. His move to Championship side Watford came in 2010 for an initial fee of £250,000 and was the club’s top scorer with 12 in the 2011-12 season under Sean Dyche.
Perhaps the striker’s most infamous moment came in the 2013 Championship play-off semi final, with Deeney scoring a last minute winner after Watford keeper Manuel Almunia had saved Anthony Knockaert’s penalty, the ball cleared up to the other end of the pitch before Deeney smashed home to cap off a 20 goal season.
Watford were beaten in extra time by Crystal Palace at Wembley, less than 10 miles from the club’s home ground of Vicarage Road but gained promotion to the Premier League in 2015, Deeney’s first season as club captain. He also became the first Watford player to score 20 or more goals in three consecutive seasons.
Watford remained in the Premier League for two seasons before a 19th place finish in a covid affected 2019-20 season and kept hold of their captain for the beginning of life back in the Championship, despite reported interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Fenerbahçe. The Hertfordshire side gained immediate promotion back to the top flight in 2021 but Deeney left as a free agent after an 11 year stay. He had scored 140 goals in 419 appearances and remains the club’s all-time record Premier League goal scorer, with 47.
A two season stay followed at Birmingham City, the club Deeney has supported since his childhood, and brought 11 Championship goals as well as being named club captain in January 2022.
Following his release this summer, Deeney has made numerous steps forward in his media career, regularly featuring on TalkSport’s breakfast show with Laura Woods and Ally McCoist, as well as beginning his own podcast career with Deeney Talks, that has hosted guests including Sir Elton John and Anthony Joshua, as well as Football Firsts with Jermain Defore for BBC Radio 5 Live.