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Wigan’s Ben Watson timeline – from being booed to winning the FA Cup

April 9th 2003: Watson makes his début for Crystal Palace

August 30th 2003: Watson scores his first goal for Crystal Palace in their 1-1 draw with Millwall

December 26th 2005: Watson sent off for two yellow cards in Palace’s 2-0 win against Ipswich.

May 16th 2006: Watson wins Crystal Palace Young Player of the Year

June 18th 2006: Peter Taylor, Crystal Palace manager – “There’s no doubt I want to keep Ben. My top priority is keeping all my best players.”

July 3rd 2006: Ben Watson – “I’ve spoken to the manager, and hopefully I’m going to get a new deal sorted that will keep me at Palace for a few more years. I’ve been lucky enough to have played for Peter Taylor at England Under-21 level, and he’s very good. Hopefully, the coming season will be our season.”

August 15th 2006: Watson signs new three-year-deal with Crystal Palace.

November 22nd 2006: Taylor – “He is an important player here. He hasn’t played as well as he can and he’ll hold his hands up to that. It hasn’t been a great season for Ben consistency-wise but I think he’s a very good player and I want him to stay here. I can understand why Premiership clubs might be interested in him but I want to keep him here.”

March 12th 2007: Carl Fletcher, team mate – “A lot of us were disappointed with the fans booing Ben as he stepped up to take the penalty. It’s not nice for any player to get that sort of reaction from his own supporters. He can take great credit from staying cool to score. Ben’s always been a confident lad with dead-ball kicks and he did fantastically well. He will look back on this experience and it will help him. It will make him stronger.”

December 18th 2007: Neil Warnock, Crystal Palace manager – “I’m talking to Ben and we’ve got to decide what’s best for both parties. He’s doing well at the moment and there’s been no interest. But I wouldn’t write off anybody going. Somebody could make an offer which is too good to turn down.”

December 27th 2007: Watson – “I don’t know anything of Reading’s interest. I’m the same as everyone else. I’ve only read it in the papers. It’s nice to be linked with other clubs, but it’s not affecting me, I’m just going out there playing my game and what happens, happens. January is round the corner so I don’t know what’s going to happen. At the moment I think we are playing as well as anyone in the division, there’s no team that we are sacred of. We’ve gone back to basics and we are a lot more confident. When you are confident you win two or three on the spin and then go from there. In this league you’ve got to go on runs to get promoted and we are on that run at the moment and hopefully we can continue that.”

May 30th 2008: Palace turn down £1.25m bid from QPR for Watson

June 14th 2008: Warnock – “We have offered Ben a new contract and a very good contract but my first impressions are that he wants to try something different. He has gone away on holiday now and will let us know when he gets back. But to me it seemed like he is ready for a move.”

July 9th 2008: Simon Jordan, Crystal Palace chairman – “Ben Watson has been with the club for a long time. He has got a year left on his contract and the threat of Ben leaving is a real one because I believe he does want to leave. We are in discussions with a number of other football clubs for Ben to leave.”

August 31st 2008: Bid from Nottingham Forest for Watson accepted

September 1st 2008: Warnock – “Ben’s turned Forest down. It’s not necessarily the case that he’ll be leaving before the transfer deadline. Ben and his agent have made it clear that he wants to go to QPR so I don’t know where that leaves us.”

November 3rd 2008: Warnock – “We’ve made him a great offer – the best offer we’ve ever given anybody at the club in my time here and it’s still on the table. You’ll have to ask his representative why he won’t sign it. I think sometimes the advice given to players by those who represent them is given for the wrong reasons and not in the player’s best interests. He’s a lovely lad, but sometimes these things happen at every level of professional football. If I said what I wanted to say there would be recriminations.”

January 19th 2009: Bid from Middlesborough for Watson rejected.

January 21st 2009: Bid of £2m from Middlesbrough for Watson accepted.

January 22nd 2009: West Ham, Fulham, Blackburn and Wigan put in bids for Watson.

January 24th 2009: Gareth Southgate, Middlesbrough manager – “We think he is joining Wigan. We are disappointed because we have done a lot of work over a couple of months towards that but that’s the way it goes sometimes, sometimes you don’t get it. Like I said, it’s a disappointment but several factors came into a player’s mind and our league position may come into it. He’s a good kid and we would have liked to have signed him but we move on.”

January 26th 2009: Watson signs for Wigan

Steve Bruce, Wigan manager – “We have been watching Ben for some time, and believe he has the maturity to step back to the highest level and make an impression. He’s a midfielder who scores goals, has quick feet, plenty of power and is a terrific prospect. I wanted to move quickly to start filling the gap left by Wilson Palacios, and Ben is the start of that process. It speaks volumes about the progress of the club that we can compete with established Premier League clubs for players. I am delighted Ben has agreed to join us. I think our supporters will take to him quickly, because he’s a real hundred percenter.”

February 17th 2009: Watson – “It was a tough decision but I think I made the right one. I was at Palace for 13 years and I think it was time for a change. I was up in Middlesbrough and my agent made me aware Wigan were interested and as soon as I knew that I wanted to speak to them. I spoke to Steve, who was gaffer at Palace when I was a young lad there, and he was straightforward with me. He spoke highly of the club but walking into the training ground there was a buzz about the place. Being seventh in the Premier League you are going to be on a high and the lads were buzzing and that was probably the main factor. Wigan are in a fantastic position to crack on and push up the table even more.”

March 14th 2009: Watson scores his first goal for Wigan in their 2-1 win over Sunderland

March 17th 2009: Bruce – “I remember someone in the crowd shouting and bawling at Ben in a home game a few weeks ago. He wasn’t 100 per cent fit then, the lad hadn’t played for six weeks before joining us. But Ben has worked hard since then, and at Sunderland you could see he has a bit of quality about him. He is a good user of the ball and showed smashing technique to score. The lad clearly has goals in him and scoring will have done him a world of good. Hopefully he’s now up and running. Ben is 23 and has played 200 Championship games, so now he deserves his chance in the big time and we’ll see how he goes.”

September 1st 2009: Watson joins QPR on a six month loan.

September 10th 2009: Watson – “I would imagine that there’ll be people from Wigan coming down to watch me probably every week to see how I’m doing, so it’s down to me to put in some good performances. The move wasn’t really a surprise to me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t in the gaffer’s plans, but I knew he wanted me to go out on loan. He couldn’t guarantee me games at the moment, which is fair enough. So instead of me sitting in the stands or sitting on the bench and playing 10 minutes here and there, it was best for me to get out and play in week in, week out.”

September 26th 2009: Watson scores his first goal for QPR in their 5-2 win over Barnsley

October 3rd 2009: Watson sent off for QPR

October 20th 2009: Watson sent off again for QPR in his first game after the suspension ended

January 29th 2010: Watson – “Obviously I want to play more at Wigan, and that is what I’ll be going all out to do between now and the end of the season. My target now for the rest of the year is to get into the Wigan team and stay there. I have spoken to the gaffer about it since I got back, and it’s all down to me now. I have to work as hard as I can and we’ll see what happens. My priority is to stay here and play here. I enjoy it here and I just want to play here.”

February 22nd 2010: Watson joins West Brom on loan for the remainder of the season.

Roberto Di Matteo, West Brom manager – “Ben is very good technically and is a competitive player who knows the Championship very well. He has played many times at this level and knows what is required, which should help him to hit the ground running.”

March 22nd 2010: Watson – “They can call me back, but I hope they don’t. I’ve had no contact with Wigan since I’ve been here, but they got a good result at the weekend which might see them safe. Hopefully I’ll be here until the end of the season. I’m with a team flying at the top of the league and I want to be in that promotion push. We probably have the best squad in the Championship and have been in the top three all season. The Premier League is another step up, but I don’t see why this team can’t cut it there. And if West Brom get promoted, it would be nice to stay on here.”

April 18th 2010: Watson scores the first of Wigan’s three goals as they turned a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal in to a 3-2 victory in the last ten minutes.

May 18th 2011: Watson – “We got in there at half-time and just said to each other it’s now or never. But the gaffer is as calm as anything and he told us if we didn’t concede another we’d win. We went out and did that and I must say it was the most incredible game I’ve played in. We’re through one cup final and there’s another to come, but we set ourselves a tally of six points from the last two games and we’re halfway there. Another performance like Sunday would be nice, although we don’t want to be going 2-0 down, that’s for sure. I really don’t know who is writing our scripts.”

November 18th 2012: Watson breaks his leg after a collision with Reheem Sterling in a game against Liverpool

May 4th 2013: Watson plays his first game after returning from injury

May 11th 2013: Watson scores the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Manchester City

Watson – “It’s an incredible achievement. Today, all the lads were fantastic. It was a great performance and thoroughly deserved. I just wanted to get on the pitch. Once I got on there, they went down to 10 men and we knew that this was our chance, our chance to win an FA Cup. We stuck to the game plan and we created chances. It’s a huge boost. We have got two massive games coming up and if we perform like we did today, we’re capable of picking up the points. But we are going to enjoy today and then get back into training tomorrow.”

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