Manuel Almunia may have only spent two years at Watford but you feel he’ll always have a place in the club’s history for the penalty save that set up Troy Deeney’s winner in the 2012/13 play-offs.
Having joined the Hornets on a free transfer after nearly a decade at Arsenal, the goalkeeper was a mainstay in the side during the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons – often taking the captain’s armband and finishing with 81 appearances under his belt.
The most memorable of those, without doubt, was the Championship play-off semi-final at Vicarage Road when he etched himself into EFL folklore with his double save to deny Anthony Knockaert, which allowed Troy Deeney to smash in a winner at the other end less than a minute later.
Almunia left at the end of his contract in June 2014 and was forced to hang up his boots just four months later.
During a medical with Serie A side Cagliari a rare heart condition was discovered and the Spanish shot-stopper was told to retire, he did.
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Speaking in an interview with The Athletic in 2019, the 43-year-old revealed he viewed it as a well-earned chance to rest after a long career dealing with the pressures of the game.
He moved back to Spain but that didn’t end his career in football. Almunia started coaching up-and-coming goalkeepers in Huelva, Andalusia, before he got an offer from ex-Watford technical director Gianluca Nani.
The Italian invited him to move out to Abu Dhabi and become the goalkeeping coach at Al Jazira, an offer that he accepted.
It is understood that the former Hornets skipper only planned on staying at the club for six months but he remains in the role to this day.
Earlier this month, the club’s current sporting director Mads Davidsen was full of praise for the “great job” he is doing with all their keepers, while Al Jazira are just three points back from league leaders Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf League.