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Gone but not forgotten:
David Connolly
Position: Striker
From: Youth team
Record: Played: 24(10) Scored: 15
To: Feyenoord - no fee (Bosman) - July 1997
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Pete Fincham's best mate

Although there are several reasons to hate David Connolly, none of them involve his decision to leave Watford Football Club. In the post-Bosman era, football fans must adjust to the new reality that contracts merely represent periods of employment rather than deeds of ownership. Regardless of the fact that we discovered and nurtured his talent, David Connolly owes us nothing - we can't expect players to hang around for the sake of some bizarre mis-placed loyalty when the whole of Europe is just a free transfer away. It's not even as if he's one of the 'you got us into this, you get us out' players from the relegation season - that was before his time, a reminder of just how short his Watford career was.

But freedom of movement a two-edged sword. Just as players have the right to look elsewhere when their contracts have expired, so clubs have the right to expect their players to fulfil contractual obligations with a certain amount of commitment. You signed the bloody thing, mate. David Connolly's last season of whining, foot-stamping and constant arrogance makes it difficult to feel disappointed about his departure. He became a right royal pain in the ass, albeit a very talented one.

The "nothing to prove" quote summed the whole situation up. Clearly taken out of context, if made by most players that comment would've slipped by unnoticed - yet with Connolly it seemed to encapsulate his superior attitude in a nutshell. Ultimately, no matter how good the player, there's a lot to be said for team spirit above individual brilliance.

Besides, Connolly still has much to prove. He's yet to play anything like a full season of first team football; his temperament is suspect (perhaps unfairly, last season's full-scale warfare at Walsall springs to mind as an example of him losing his cool in fairly spectacular fashion); he remains relatively lightweight. He will, I think, be a great player. But he's not a great player yet and I trust that Feyenoord will remind him of that at every opportunity.

The goalscoring record speaks for itself, although it looks marginally less impressive if you consider that nine of those fifteen goals were scored in three hat-tricks. Connolly has that striker's knack of being in the right place at the right time - it's an instinctive thing, something that can't be taught, something that makes him a very valuable player indeed. If his finishing sometimes doesn't live up to that positional sense, then the law of averages tends to dictate that he'll stick one of the chances away sooner or later.

His all-round play leaves much to be desired (although there are occasional moments when he'll conjure up an unexpected, visionary pass or scurry around to win the ball in midfield) but a goalscorer doesn't need all-round play. No-one asks Robbie Fowler to go back for corners.

So, then. He's gone away to bigger and better things, a twenty year old who was far too good for Vicarage Road and, unfortunately, knew it. Feyenoord have got themselves one of Europe's most promising young strikers for nothing.