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Isaac Success's long road to the top

It has taken 10 appearances, eight of those as a substitute, but Isaac Success finally got his first Premier League goal of the season on Saturday as Watford beat Huddersfield Town.

The 22-year-old arrived in the box to smash home Kiko Femenia's low cross as the Hornets sealed a comfortable 3-0 victory. It was no more than the forward deserved for his endeavour the entire game, but more than that, for the work he has put in this season to get where he is.

That goal was only his second league goal since joining from Granada in a club-record deal three seasons ago, and only his fourth overall for the club.

However, there is something significant about the distribution of those four goals; three have been scored this season, with the other two coming in the League Cup against Reading and Tottenham Hotspur.

The distribution is testament to the revised focus and mentality that Success has demonstrated to get his career back on track.

One of the most talented young players to come out of the Nigeria U-17 team of 2013, a series of personal missteps have seen the forward lag behind teammates and contemporaries like Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and Taiwo Awoniyi.

His fledgling career took him to Udinese, then Granada before he transferred to Watford.

That move to England was expected to be his big break at the time. Instead, the most prominent headline was an alleged dispute with prostitutes in a Hertfordshire hotel.

While he did manage 19 league appearances in his first season, he only started two and completed just one game, making a combined total of a measly 504 minutes.

In the League Cup that season, Success barely managed 44 minutes of football, and acknowledged to KweséESPN that it was a difficult time for him.

Not only was the forward not making the right choices, but he was not getting the right counsel to help him navigate those waters

"In life, we come across difficulties, we come across challenges," he began. "Some people are meant to get a solution to their challenges easier than others.

"I just think it was a difficult challenge for me, I was not around the right people to put me in a position to get a solution quickly and come back to my feet again.

"Then I got injured because I wasn't fit enough, and when I came back from my knee injury I added a bit of weight and that made me more unfit. That slowed me a bit."

Things have changed this season.

Success has already accumulated 260 minutes of action in the Premier League - more than half of his total for the last two seasons combined - and 180 minutes of League Cup action, four times better than his last two seasons combined.

Those goals are just reward for his time on the pitch and the work he has put in.

Success acknowledges that a change in attitude has been behind his improvement.

"I had a different mentality then than now," he continued. "Then I thought talent can do it all because to me I know the talent is there.

"I realised just before the start of this season that talent was not enough, and hard work will always beat talent. So I am more of a professional now.

"It took a lot of time to adapt to the Premier League system, the lifestyle and the professionalism."

Coming to that realisation helped Success put in the work necessary, and he decided to do it well before the other players at the start of the campaign.

"I had a plan for myself, I set a target for myself this season and I stuck to it with the aid of my boss. I came in two weeks before the pre-season started, and went to Manchester to to do some personal training with my trainer.

"I think that helped me because it made me stronger and by the time pre-season came, I was already fresh and fit so I was able to compete and now I am getting more chances in the Watford team.

"l lost a couple of kilos which has made me fitter and quicker for my team," he continued. "I think I have now become a better person, I have become a better professional and that helped my career a lot.

"I would like to say thank you to Javi Gracia and Watford that they had belief in me and have been giving me chances all season to build up my fitness level.

"Now, I am in shape and ready to go any time."

Despite his track record, Success has insisted that there should be no concern of him falling off the wagon again.

"I am a much better player now, much better professional," he continued. "I know my ability, I know my quality. I just want to keep on working hard and giving what I can give to both my country and the club side.

"Obviously, being third striker, I am not far from getting a starting shirt. All I need to do is just keep on working.

"Whenever I get in five minutes, ten minutes, I just try to make an impact on the team. That impact is going to keep on growing until I get into the team, and when I get into the team, it's left for me to seal it up and say no going back."

Success also earned a recall to the Super Eagles fold for the national side's recent Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Libya, and looks on course to make Gernot Rohr's squad for the tournament in Cameroon.

"I just want to say I thank God I am now with the right people to put me through in my career because I can't do it alone and I am grateful to them," the forward concluded. "Now is just the time to take what belongs to me."

Success's conviction, renewed focus and recent form should put the rest of the Premier League on alert, as a forward who was a goalscoring superstar at U-17 level finally looks like realising his potential.

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