Michel Ngonge has revealed that he did ‘not enjoy’ Watford’s 2-0 play-off final win at Wembley against Bolton Wanderers in 1999. The Congolese International had never played in front of so many supporters in his career and admitted that the occasion got the better of him.
Michel Ngonge said “It is true, I did not enjoy the final because I had way too much adrenaline, Let’s not forget that I am Belgian and was not used to play at such a big stadium. I had never previously played in front of 80,000 people in my career. Fear? No, it was not fear but the stressful preparation in the build-up to the game took an enormous emotional toll on me. It affected my energy levels and during the game I was very focused. In hindsight, I should have cherished the occasion more because I did not savour the game itself and the win enough. I enjoyed it more after the match after going home and seeing the images After promotion, Graham Taylor did not want to sign new players and told us: ‘I will try with you first and if things do not go the way I want, only then will I buy new players’. We players had gifted him promotion and he wanted to return the favour to us, He had the possibility to strengthen the team but did not want to waste any money. For me that was a mistake but it showed what a great man Graham was. He was un grand Monsieur. Any other manager would have spent big on new players while he told us: ‘You gave me a lot and I want to give you something back’. Every time we players were on the pitch we worked so hard for him, because we knew we owed him a lot, especially me who he had signed without seeing me play. When this man talked to you, he gave you goosebumps, he gave a sense to anything he did and that is important. Moreover, he was not a manager who did things behind your back but was always very honest.”