Unless you are a Watford fan you are unlikely to have heard of 29 year old Kiko Femenía, a product of the Hercules (Alicante) Preferente side who’s journey, via Barcelona, Real Madrid, Alcorcón and Alavés, saw him move to the Hornets on a free transfer in July 2017.

After two seasons of regular first team football the full back was unfortunate to fall out of favour with manager, and fellow countryman, Javi Gracia, but following the Spaniard’s sacking and the  arrival of Nigel Pearson, he has now seen a revival in his fortunes, re-establishing himself on the right side of the Watford defence.

The Alicante born player says he feels thoroughly at home in London, along with his wife and their 18 month old daughter, and now, with the arrival just prior to the travel ban of his mother, he is happy to be surrounded by a large family unit even though he spends a large part of his day at home.

“The news that we hear from Spain is that people are having a very bad time. Luckily, my whole family is fine and that is the most important thing,” remarks the man from Alicante, before stressing the importance of following the recommendations of the authorities. “If we listen to what they say, this nightmare will end sooner.”

“We all are safe at home, but here we can go for a walk and do a little sport. I know that in Spain everyone is in lockdown and you can’t do such things, so we are a little better off here in London,” says Femenía, who is eagerly awaiting the day that he can get back into training and play games with his team Watford.

Kiko moved to the Hornets on a free transfer in July 2017 from Alaves.
Kiko moved to the Hornets on a free transfer in July 2017 from Alaves.

“We stopped training almost a month ago and although we had planned to return to work on 15 April, we now know that the break will continue until the middle of May.”

The exherculano spends a large part of his day training at home. He has weights, an exercise bike and a multi gym, so he works hard on his fitness every day.

“The idea is to play again before the summer and be able to finish the Premier League competition. But right now everyone’s health is the priority.  I am not in favour of playing behind closed doors because the magic of football is to play with spectators, with your fans and as we are in a relegation dogfight with the likes of West Ham, Bournemouth and Villa those fans, particularly at home, make all the difference to us.”

Kiko Femenía credits Nigel Pearson with the turnaround that has seen the team lift itself out of the relegation zone, albeit by that single goal.

When the boss came to watch the home game with Crystal Palace we were nine points off safety going into the home game with Manchester United just before Christmas, but when he took over he gave us back our confidence and we took four wins and two draws in his first six games, moving us up the table to 17th.

“But the margin between ourselves and Bournemouth, the team below, is just a single goal, so we have nine finals left to play for our fans,” he says.

Kiko Femenia in action for Hercules during a Spanish league match in 2011
Kiko Femenia in action for Hercules during a Spanish league match in 2011

He changed the formation, played Doucouré in a more advanced role and established Will Hughes as the base of the midfield, but Femenía believes the way the Head Coach has put smiles on faces and restored confidence has been the key.

“I think the biggest change is the belief we have in ourselves,” said the full-back, credited as being the 9th fastest player in the Premier League “I think we had lost that a bit.”

“But now we need to win to escape relegation. It’s not about looking at others and seeing whether they lost, won or drew – we need to be stronger and focus on ourselves and look to the game ahead as a chance to get three points.”

“As I said before, every game is a final and if we are to retain our position in the Premier League we have to treat every one of the remaining nine fixtures as such.”

Images courtesy of: https://www.watfordfc.com/