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Richard LeeGoalkeeping "rival" Richard is backing Watford fans to support loyal Alec's testimonial year

Richard Lee has established himself as Watford's first choice goalkeeper thanks to a string of outstanding performances this season - and he gives much of the credit to the man he has taken over from, Alec Chamberlain.

"I've known Alec since I was about 13," said Richard. "And over the years he's been a great friend and a great source of advice.

"Quite simply, if you can't learn from Alec you can't learn from anyone - he's been a fantastic player for Watford, he's a wonderful example to other professional footballers in his attitude and approach to the game, and Watford have been lucky to have him on board."

Richard is fully aware that a pre-season injury to Alec gave him his opportunity to establish himself as The Hornets Number One, but says Alec has been fully supportive throughout the season.

"Obviously Alec wants to play in the first team for as long as he can, and I know he hoped to start the season in the first team," says Richard. "But though he's probably been disappointed at spending much of the season on the bench, he's been brilliant to me.

"Having him around has certainly kept me on my toes because I know that if he got back in the team he'd do a fantastic job - as he always has, and as he did in the two Cup games against Fulham.

"But as I've kept my place in the team, Alec hasn't been bitter or angry, instead he has been helpful, supportive and constructive - and that's why he'll make such a great goalkeeping coach."

Indeed, Richard was delighted when Alec was given the duties of coaching fellow goalkeepers after Kevin Hitchcock left earlier in the season to join Blackburn.

"He doesn't scream or shout, he simply explains things to you, and does it very constructively - he's very positive and always wants to help rather than knock you. His knowledge of the game is first class, and he's had a really big influence on me over the years, but particularly this season, and I hope that continues, I love working with him."

As he approaches his 41st birthday, even Alec acknowledges his days as a top class professional are numbered, but Richard knows his friend and rival will continue to eye up a first team comeback.

"I tease Alec about his age, but believe me, if you didn't know how old he was you'd never think he was 40 - he's very fit, very sharp and good enough to compete for a regular place."

And according to Richard, that is precisely why Alec thoroughly deserves his testimonial.

"Alec's been a fantastic servant to Watford over the years, and not for nothing has he been player of the year twice," he says. "And the fact that he's still hungry to carry on playing shows you the kind of attitude this guy has.

"I've honestly never known anyone have a bad word to say about Alec. He's a great colleague and a very good friend, and I know everyone connected with the club - from players to the supporters - will be very keen to show him just how much he's been, and still very much is, appreciated and respected."

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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