In-form Hornets star Dennis reveals his altar ego
Watford star Emmanuel Dennis has revealed he wanted to be a priest before putting his faith in football.
The Nigerian forward is one of the Hornets’ star men after scoring six goals in 14 games during his first Premier League season.
His partnership with Josh King has impressed many this term, despite a difficult campaign for the side currently managed by Claudio Ranieri.
But things could have been very different for the 24-year-old Nigerian had he followed his original plans.
Dennis’ religious upbringing meant that as a teenager he had the desire to devote his life to the church.
Asked whether he always wanted to play the beautiful game, he told Sky Sports: "No, I never dreamed of being a professional football player. I wanted to be a priest but today I'm a baller.
"I grew up in a family that believes so much in God and going to church. As a young boy I'd go to church and admire the priest. I was like, 'Yeah, I want to be a priest'. I was 13 or 14.
"I was growing up and I was good at football and everyone was telling me, 'You should be a footballer because you play really good'.
"And my family were like, 'No, he needs to go to school'. And then they pushed me and I'm here."
It seems like a smart move, with Dennis emerging as one of the English top-flight’s most exciting talents.
The in-form star spent time in the Ukraine, Belgium and Germany before moving to Vicarage Road for a reported fee of just £3.4million in June.
He first caught the eye with an impressive double at the Bernabeu while playing for Club Brugge in a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in 2019.
With just three Nigeria caps to his name, his recent performances have led to a clamour for Dennis to receive an international recall.
His last Super Eagles appearance was in November 2020 and he could be a handy addition ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
Napoli striker Victor Osimhen is a doubt for the tournament, which begins next month, after suffering a fractured cheekbone.