Last Updated: 08/12/18 9:05am
Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue has revealed he was set on becoming a No. 10 like Zinedine Zidane early in his career before settling for a deeper role.
Having grown up in France when Zidane was at the peak of his powers, a young Capoue wanted to emulate the 1998 World Cup winner by playing in a creative role, as he broke through the youth ranks at Toulouse.
After seeing his career somewhat stall following a move to Tottenham in 2013, Capoue has finally found comfort at Watford under Javi Gracia.
“I was actually a No 10 when I was younger. I grew up watching Zidane,” Capoue told The Times. “But they [the Toulouse coaches] said, ‘You’re too slow, come back here, you can read the game, so it’s better for you to play here.’
“It is my best position, I am born in this position in Toulouse. The new coach [Gracia] knew me since I was in Toulouse, so he knew I could do a very good performance in my real position.
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“So when he asked, it was natural for me to drop and read the game, do some interceptions, tackles and give the ball to others. I like to be in the shadows.”
The 30-year-old has been a crucial figure this season for Watford, playing every minute outside of two games he has missed through suspension.
That total could double over the next week with Capoue set to miss two more games after receiving a three-match ban following a red card for a tackle on Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho last weekend.
Having had an initial appeal rejected, Watford have taken the rare step of challenging that ruling in the hope of having Capoue available for their Monday Night Football trip to Everton, which is live on Sky Sports.
After a strong start to the season, Watford have gone on a five-match winless run, which has seen them drop into the bottom half of the Premier League table.