Player name in full: David Vernon Watson
To/from dates: 1975-76 & 1978-79
Number of appearances: 188
Goals scored: 6
Born in the small Nottingshire town of Stapleford on October 5th, 1946 Dave played youth football for Stapleford Old Boys and left school to work as a farm labourer and then as an electrician. Following redundancy, he turned to football, beginning his professional career quite late, at the age of 20. His older brother Peter, also a professional footballer, played centre half for Nottingham Forest and Southend Utd.
Dave signed for Notts County in 1966 and a combination of incredible heading ability and his height of 5’ 11” (180cm) he seemed ideally suited to play as a striker.
After three seasons at Rotherham he moved to Sunderland in 1970 and when new manager Bob Stokoe took over in November 1972, he transformed Dave into the legendary centre half that helped Sunderland beat Leeds Utd in the FA Cup Final of 1973. His tough tenacious performance that day against the great Leeds pairing of Clarke and Jones was singled out for praise by Stokoe after the game.
Dave joined Manchester City in the summer of 1975 for £175,000 making his debut at Blackpool on August 2nd in an Anglo-Scottish Cup game that City lost 1-0. He played 4 seasons for the club.
He soon established a strong, rock solid defensive partnership alongside Mike Doyle which, together with the now famous Dennis Tueart goal, helped City win the Football League Cup in 1976 with a 2-1 win over Newcastle Utd. City missed out on the League title by one point the following 1976-77 season.
Changes at Manchester City saw Dave play his last game at Maine Rd on May 15th 1979, losing 2-3 to Aston Villa. He is still much loved, fondly remembered and respected by both fans and fellow professionals throughout the game.
Dave’s England career started late, at the age of 27, in April 1974 and soon his tough, uncompromising style made him a regular squad member. A five times winner of the British Championships he captained the team three times. He was excluded from the squad for the 1982 FIFA World Cup because manager Ron Greenwood selected only three central defenders.
Having scored 4 goals from his 65 games he remains the most-capped England player never to play in FIFA World Cup finals, playing his last international game against Iceland in June 1982, almost 36 years old.
Non-City career (briefly):
Following his spell at City Dave played for a variety of clubs at various levels, including a 2-game spell at Werder Bremen, followed by Vancouver Whitecaps and Fort Lauderdale Sun.
Following his retirement from the game he established himself as a very successful businessman. He also became involved in a venture producing sport themed historical wall charts.
Still a lover of the game he now lives in Nottingham with his wife Penny.