Quique Sanchez Flores received a call from a Real Madrid legend yesterday as news of his work in what could turn out to be the greatest ever season in the club’s history continues to reach far and wide.
Securing a second ever straight season in the Premier League and reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup may, in some people’s eyes, even eclipse the 1982/83 campaign, when Watford finished second after being promoted, and the following season when they got to the final of the FA Cup. Whatever your viewpoint, Sanchez Flores is doing a damn fine job, and the headline-grabbing win over Arsenal in the quarter-final of the FA Cup on Sunday prompted a call from someone who played more than 700 times for Real Madrid. Only Iker Casillas and Raul have played more times than the caller.
“I have a lot of messages, a lot of calls from Spain,” Sanchez Flores said. “People in Spain follow Watford a lot. Yesterday Manuel Sanchis called me. He was my teammate at Real Madrid and for the national team. He called me and said, ‘Quique, I want your under-16s to come to my tournament in July. And I’d like to come to England and see Watford’. This, for me, is like ‘Wow’. It shows we are expanding Watford everywhere.”
Sanchez Flores talks at great length about Watford being “a humble team” and you really have to drag it out of him that he’s won five out of six cup finals he’s been involved in as a coach, including, most famously, the 2010 Europa League. Does he realise how he stands on the brink of achieving greatness with Watford in such a short space of time?
“I realise everyone is happy,” he said. “I try to go some place where I am able to do something for the fans, for the people to be happy. I have this kind of feeling here. Watford have had a lot of good seasons and this season is one of the most important in their history. We have the chance to establish ourselves in the Premier League and this would be amazing. I think we have the necessary director [Gino Pozzo] of the project with the kind of ambition to do something, really, really big.”