Lee starts to show return on Watford investment

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The Independent Football

After stepping into the Dragon's Den, life as a goalkeeper is suddenly a whole lot easier for Watford's Richard Lee.

Until the beginning of last month, Lee was probably more famous for his appearance on the popular BBC show than anything he had achieved in his footballing career. Having succeeded in squeezing £150,000 out of the Dragons for a 50 per cent share in his cap-making business, Lee had managed much more than many of his fellow entrepreneurs, even though he has taken plenty of stick in the Hornets dressing room as a result.

However, Ben Foster's knee injury offered Lee an unexpected chance to excel on the football field once more. And, he showed a liking for the television cameras again at Eastlands on Monday night, turning in an outstanding performance to help Watford gain a precious point from their trip to Manchester City.

"I am probably more known for the TV programme than my football at the moment," he reflected. "When I went on, I did fear I was setting myself up for a bit of a fall but in the end it came across well and we managed to get ourselves an investment, which not many other people do.

"The lads at Watford made a pretty big deal out of it. As soon as it finished, I got about 20 texts and when I came into training the following day there was a fair bit of stick flying about.

"But it has to be taken for what it is, which is a bit of fun. It is nice to have a sideline but football has always been my first love and I would never allow anything to take my focus away from my profession."

Certainly no one at City was laughing at Lee, who produced a string of fine saves to ensure Watford ended a run of three successive defeats, culminating in the home loss to Sheffield United that left most pundits predicting an instant return to the Championship.

Although Watford are still four points from safety, Lee insists confidence within Aidy Boothroyd's squad is high. "We had a long meeting after the Sheffield United game, not just to talk about that particular match but our situation in general," he said. "The boss was great and we were able to put a lot of things right, which we put into practice against Manchester City.

"Although we only have 10 points, when we look back, we have not had any lucky results. Everything we have got, we have deserved. There is still a lot of belief in this squad and we just feel it will only take a few things to start dropping for us to start climbing the table a little bit."

Lee's fine individual performance could not have come at a better time given Foster is only a month away from regaining full fitness.

The 24-year-old is desperate to cement a permanent place in Boothroyd's side, although he accepts having Foster - on loan from Manchester United and a regular member of Steve McClaren's England squad - as a rival is not easy.

"You don't really have rotation with goalkeepers and a couple of weeks ago, it looked as though I would be on the bench for the duration," said Lee.

"I have no problem with Ben because he has been fantastic but it is a tough role because you are not getting games and you are not getting a run in the team."