Kind words from Watford boss Gianfranco Zola helped persuade Carlisle United to sign former Hornets midfielder Prince Buaben.
It was confirmed this week that Buaben had agreed terms with the League One side after his contract with Watford expired in the summer and the move is expected to be concluded on Thursday.
Buaben was an unused substitute in Zola’s first game at the Hornets in 2012 but the midfielder then suffered a complex thigh injury which meant he made just one substitute outing – against Hull City in April – during the remainder of the 2012/13 campaign.
“Gianfranco Zola was on my A-Licence course and I had a 15-minute conversation with him about Prince,” Carlisle boss Graham Kavanagh told the News & Star.
“He said he’s a great kid and a good character.
“He started the majority of games in the early part of his time there (at Watford), but then got injured and because they kept winning while he was out of the team, he struggled to get back in.
“But he trained as hard as he had previously, was good around the group and everything I have heard about him has been very good.”
Buaben made 22 starts and 11 substitute appearances during his two-year stay at Watford after joining from Dundee United.
The 25-year-old has spent the summer training with Aberdeen after being released by the Golden Boys.
“I am here (at Carlisle) because I spoke to the manager and I spoke to some players who have been here before,” Buaben told Carlisle’s website.
“I know Joe Garner, who used to be here (at Carlisle) and I heard nothing but good things. I know Danny Cadamarteri and he spoke very highly of the manager and of Carlisle.
“The manager told me that he wants his team to play football and that’s how I like to play as well.
“He said he’d spoken to Gianfranco Zola, even before it was decided that he wanted to sign me, and he’d been told some nice things.
“He has also watched me, and had me watched, and he liked what he saw. I think that can be key for the player because when a manager wants you it makes you want to sign more. He said some good things and I really appreciated it. I’m just delighted that I’m here now.”
“I do feel like I’ve got loads of points to prove just now,” he admitted. “I’ve been out for a long time but I still have so much hunger for the game. I just want to get on the pitch, do what I do best and start smiling again.
“This has been a tough year just gone but I’m determined to forget it and have a better year ahead. That has started for me with a club like Carlisle United giving me a chance. People might say that I could do better but this is an important step for me. I want to get playing again and I think this club has a good chance of going up. I will do my best to help that by giving 110% and, hopefully, I’ll be fulfilling my dreams at the same time.”