Former Hemel Hempstead Town loanee Jorell Johnson has praised the club for helping him to continue his development as a player.
Watford Academy graduate Johnson spent last season on loan at his hometown club, and said that the spell at Vauxhall Road was a ‘constant learning curve.’
The centre-back returned to Watford at the end of the campaign, and has recently signed on with the Hornets for a second year having signed his first one-year pro deal in May 2014.
“When I first arrived I didn’t know too much about the club; I hadn’t really played non-league so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Johnson told watfordfc.com.
“But as soon as I got there we tried to play football, and the tempo was good.
“My first game was very physical and it made me realise it was a good challenge to be at the club. I enjoyed every minute. It was a good opportunity and a constant learning curve for me.
I enjoyed every minute. It was a good opportunity and a constant learning curve for me.Jorell Johnson
“In a way it was a new start, because in the U18s you’re playing with people your own age and then I went to playing with people who are as much as 10 years older than myself.”
And Johnson admitted that the pressure of turning out for his hometown club helped him to play to his full potential in the Conference South last season.
“To be playing for my hometown team meant there was a bit of added pressure too which helped me perform better,” he said. “The fans were brilliant, and they knew I was a local lad.”
Johnson was a key member of the Hemel squad during his time with the club, helping the Tudors to a ninth-placed finish in the league as well as a successful FA Cup run which saw them enjoy a dream trip to League Two side Bury in the first round proper of the competition.
“Playing for Hemel in the FA Cup was one of the highlights of my career so far,” said Johnson. “To play in the tournament is something that every boy dreams of, so to create history playing in it was phenomenal.
“I celebrated on my own when we scored, and ran into the crowd because I knew how much it meant to them – it was a long journey too that day and so it was amazing for them.
“To play higher is something to aim for and is such a big motivation so it can only get better – hopefully I get many more feelings like that one.”
Johnson is now targeting a successful career with the Hornets, but knows he still has a long way to go in his development before becoming a regular member of the first team squad.
He continued: “I’m delighted to have been given the chance of another year. I would love to go out on loan to a League club to get some more experience, but we’ll see what happens.
“I think I’m ready for League football now. I’ve been at Watford for nine years so have learnt the technical side of the game.
“Having been out and done the physical stuff too I think the lower divisions in the Football League are something I’d be able to handle.
“I joined here when the club were in the Premier League and they got relegated, and so to be back in the top division is a great experience. In previous years you would have never thought that kind of thing would happen again so it’s going to be amazing.”