‘Compared to France, football is like a war in England, you have to take your chance’

'Compared to France, football is like a war in England, you have to take your chance'

Etienne Capoue is quite clear how he feels about his chosen profession: when he is in a game or on the training pitches at Watford, there is nothing else on his mind, but when he is away from it, then football occupies much less of his thoughts than you might imagine.

At 30, this elegant holding midfielder is almost six years in the Premier League, first at Tottenham Hotspur and, since 2015, a mainstay of Watford’s side. He started at Wembley in 2016 when the club lost a FA Cup semi-final to Crystal Palace, coming off after 32 minutes with injury, and he is determined it will be a different outcome when the teams meet at Vicarage Road on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Growing up in the town of Niort in the west of France, he became a professional at Toulouse at 18 and says he was always eager to play in the Premier League, so when the chance presented itself at Spurs in their post-Gareth Bale sale splurge, he jumped at it. His style is intense and he admits to “trash-talking” his own team-mates on the pitches at Watford’s Hertfordshire training ground, where we meet. He likes to feel pressure, he says, but when that is over he prefers to indulge his real passion, which is basketball, and the NBA.

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