In a side with big name players like Richarlison, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Troy Deeney, it is easy to overlook the rest of the Watford squad – like 31-year-old Adrian Mariappa, for example.
The English-born Jamaican international is currently in his second spell at Vicarage Road and has impressed since making his way into the starting eleven. While he may not score goals or pull off outrageous skills, he simply gets the job done.
Mariappa always puts everything on the line, every minute of every match, no questions asked. His work largely goes under the radar, but deserves to be acknowledged by receiving Watford’s player of the season award.
Mariappa started his campaign as far down the centre back pecking order as possible. With the likes of Prodl, Kabasele, Britos, Cathcart, Kaboul and Wague all likely contenders for a starting place ahead of Mariappa, it is amazing he even got a game.
But, due to an unearthly number of injuries for the Hornets, the veteran centre back was called upon, even having to cover at right back on occasion.
Last ditch challenges and fearless, goal-denying blokes are Adrian Mariappa’s bread and butter. He’s not the fasted runner or the most cultured passer of the ball, but it is his determination that makes him a great defender, which he has shown countless times this season.
Adrian Mariappa will go down in Watford history as one of the longest serving players at the club. After starting out in Watford’s youth system at an early age, Mariappa signed his first professional contract with the Hornet’s in the 2004/05 season.
He spent seven years at Vicarage Road in the senior team, making over two hundred appearances, during which time he picked up the 2011/12 player of the season award, before a stint away at Reading and Crystal Palace.
In 2016, the club announced Mariappa had re-signed for the Hornets. Already a crowd favourite, the long serving centre back still shows the same passion the Watford faithful once saw all those years ago.
The only lasting player from his first stint at Watford was captain and leader Troy Deeney. The pair were famously close friends, and remain the same today.
During Deeney’s spell in jail in 2012, his wages were suspended and reports from The Sun stated that Mariappa decided to give Deeney’s wife £10,000 to help support her and their child.
A selfless act by a player who at the time wouldn’t have been on big wages, goes to show the sincerity of the man.
While many will argue that Abdoulaye Doucoure cannot be pipped to the prestigious award this season, Adrian Mariappa must be a contender.
His passion on the pitch and generosity off it makes him not only a great player, but a great man, and a worthy winner of this year’s Watford player of the season award.