Ben Watson’s Nottingham Forest fairytale in 2019-20 has been recited many times, but he remains something of an unsung hero at the City Ground.
He has the full respect of his manager.
Leading to him taking the captain’s armband.
Those around him have been quick to talk up his value on a regular basis.
Even doubters in the stands have been turned into believers.
Humble pie has been dished out by the truckload this season.
Watson will, however, continue to sail under the radar for many of those outside of Trentside.
His is not a role which lends itself to making headlines.
See ball, win it, give it.
That just about sums up the 34-year-old’s remit.
There is no expectation on him to surge forward and deliver end product.
He has, however, turned the clock back to his FA Cup-winning days on three occasions this season – which is almost unheard of!
For the most part, Watson is there to make others around him look good.
If he does his job properly, then that makes everybody else’s life a little bit easier.
There have been few bones to pick with a veteran performer this term.
He has gone about his business in the understated fashion demanded of him.
More of the same was delivered in his most recent outing against Cardiff.
Such recognition has not always come his way, but it further highlights his importance to the collective cause.
Especially as Samba Sow is currently being denied the opportunity to line up alongside him.
Forest have found two wrecking balls with which to cause destruction.
Only one is swinging as intended at present.
Watson, though, has shown himself to be more than capable of stepping up in times of need.
In many ways, he has become the second tier’s finest exponent of the holding role.
No midfielder in the Championship has made more blocks that Watson (24).
Only one player – Charlton’s Darren Pratley (62) – has put in more interceptions than the Forest skipper (61) and his haul of 89 tackles is only topped by Swansea’s Matt Grimes (101).
Three vital areas for any enforcer, and Watson sits inside the top two across the board.
He has, of course, seen plenty of minutes as a mainstay in Sabri Lamouchi’s side.
There has, however, been no letting up from a man approaching the end of a distinguished playing career.
Many queried his regular selections back in August, but few are questioning his presence now.