Belfast Telegraph

Linfield ace Watson focused on seeing double

By Graham Luney

Albert Watson is living the dream at Linfield — but he’s not quite there yet.

On Saturday he celebrated his first Gibson Cup triumph but there’s a modern day culture of winning doubles at Windsor Park and that’s next on his hit list.

The big centre-back has heard all the Irish Cup fairytale stories — no doubt there’s plenty of them flying around the international venue.

Now the former Ballymena United favourite wants one of his own.

After nine years with the Sky Blues, he agreed a two-year contract with Linfield in April last year.

The opportunity to prove himself at the best team in the country was too enticing an opportunity to resist.

Manager David Jeffrey wasn’t looking for a new Noel Bailie — the ‘skipper’ was irreplaceable — but he was looking for a commanding centre-back who could be a rock at the back while carrying the ball comfortably out of defence.

Could Watson handle the pressure at Windsor Park?

Any doubters have been silenced as the 26-year-old has risen to the occasion and he will soon grasp his first championship winners medal.

But the best players don’t simply settle for what they already have. Watson is desperate to lift the Irish Cup for the first time and victory over Newry City at the Oval tomorrow would leave him only 90 minutes away from realising that dream.

“I’ve won my first title and hopefully it’s the first of many,” he said.

“There are boys at Linfield who have won several titles so I am so happy and relieved to get my first one and it feels very special — it’s the reason why I joined the club.

“When I first came to Linfield I looked around the team and saw how many good players were here. I knew it was going to be a tough job even getting into the side.

“To have played a part in the title win is special.

“The manager has shown faith in me by bringing me to the club and he’s shown faith in me by sticking with me during tough times like when we lost at Cliftonville.

“I knew I had to prove I was good enough to play for Linfield and hopefully I have done that. I’m sure many good players haven’t managed to thrive here but I’m happy with my progress.

“The opportunity to make it to an Irish Cup final is fantastic. The boys talk about how great a day it is and how it’s all about the fans and the families coming out to support the team. I want to experience it for myself.

“There’s a great hunger in this team to win trophies and I’m delighted to be part of it.”

Just like Newry City boss Pat McGibbon, Watson is keen to banish the demons of another Irish Cup semi-final tale of woe.

“Larne beat us (Ballymena United) 1-0 in the 2005 semi-final and it just shows that in one-off games the favourites tag can mean nothing,” added Watson.

“We went on to play Linfield in a County Antrim Shield final at Seaview and lost 2-1 so I haven’t had much luck yet in knockout football!

“Newry will be looking to upset the apple cart and won’t be feeling any pressure so we’ll expect a very tough game.”

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