Clarke Carlise has told talkSPORT of his relief after leaving Leeds United in 2005 and how he got one over on then-chairman Ken Bates.
He joined the West Yorkshire club in 2004, months after their relegation from the Premier League, and went on to make 35 appearances, even contributing four goals.
A financially-stricken United side finished 14th in the Championship and, in the following summer, new boss Kevin Blackwell allowed Carlisle to move to Watford, where he signed a three-year deal.
“It was about rescuing my sanity, self-worth and my value,” the former defender told My Sporting Life of his move to Vicarage Road.
“I went down to Watford, get there and get a bouquet of flowers from Ken Bates, who is the [Leeds] chairman. This bouquet of flowers says: ‘Good luck at Watford, you’ll need it.’
“[I’m thinking] oh, alright that was a bit touché Ken but we’ll take that.
“You’ve got to bear in mind Leeds put a clause in the contract – which I have never seen before or since on a permanent transfer – that I can’t play against them the following season. So in the two league fixtures – and when we come to meet them in the play-off final – I wasn’t allowed to play.”
Rather typically, Blackwell’s Leeds finished in fifth place while Aidy Boothroyd’s Hornets were third and the two sides would meet again in Wales, battling for promotion to the top flight.
Carlisle, who made 32 league appearances that season, continued: “As luck would have it, I was injured for the play-off final anyway, so I couldn’t play.
“Play-off final, Millennium Stadium, Watford v Leeds, we battered them.
“I was in my suit in the stand but we battered them. I’d never been so happy.
“I sent a bouquet of flowers to Ken Bates that said: ‘Good luck without the parachute payments, you’ll need it.’ Karma.”
Clarke Carlisle sat down with talkSPORT’s Danny Kelly to discuss the highs and lows of his career, his personal life and more. Listen to My Sporting Life on Sunday (July 16) from 10pm.