Jamie Vardy is the inspiration for speedy Barnsley FC mover Max Watters

IN A CAREER which has so far seen him represent seven non-league clubs and sign for five in the English Football League before his 24th birthday, Max Watters has certainly been on the move a fair bit.

It's in the family, after all. His dad runs a removal business in London and Camden-born Watters has sampled a taste of that as well while briefly combining non-league commitments with working life.

Keeping in the movement theme, Barnsley's latest signing considers himself to be a speedy operator blessed with a yard of pace in the final third.

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It might just come in handy for the Reds as they head at the business end of the season.

Max Watters. Picture: Dan Berry.Max Watters. Picture: Dan Berry.
Max Watters. Picture: Dan Berry.

Watters, who started his professional career down the road at Doncaster Rovers, represented the likes of Thurrock, Maidstone United, Barking, Ashford and Gainsborough Trinity in a nomadic early part of his career.

The player who inspires him the most also has plenty of experience on life outside of the Football League before making it big in the shape of Jamie Vardy, a fleet-footed and direct striker if there ever was one, certainly in his heyday.

Watters, who will be involved in the Reds squad for Saturday's League One game at Charlton, said: "Obviously, coming up from non-league, I always look up to Jamie Vardy.

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"I like the way he plays and he is different to an ordinary striker. Getting in behind and being able to finish is probably my strength.

"I have watched a lot of his games and videos on YouTube. He is a very intelligent striker with his movement and the way he plays. Hopefully, I can be a tiny bit like him."

On his background away from football working with his father, the Cardiff City striker, who helped with the family business as recently as 2020 when he was 'between clubs' during Covid, continued: "From the age of 16, I worked for my dad and was chucked in the deep end and woke up at six in the morning to go and earn some money. He owns a removal business.

"It gives me a taste of the real world. Obviously, being a footballer is good, but there's always reality at the end. I just have to appreciate what I have got.

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"During the Covid period when I got released from Doncaster, I didn't have a club for five months and I was struggling to get a club as they weren't spending much money.

"That was a tough period in my career, but then it makes you work harder and I managed to get a deal at Crawley and it meant I didn't have to go back 'working'.”

Watters joins after a difficult spell at his parent club.

He has failed to score for Cardiff this season and was criticised on one very public occasion by then-Bluebirds chief Steve Morison in the autumn.

Clear-the-air talks helped rectify the situation, but the Londoner's fortunes did not overly change under Mark Hudson.

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His last City appearance was on Bonfire Night and a hamstring issue and illness had not helped since.

The prospect of a return to Yorkshire was grasped with both hands by Watters, mindful that he scored seven goals in 14 appearances at this level in the first half of last season on loan at MK Dons.

That rewound the clock to some prolific times at the club where he made his name in Crawley, where a haul of 13 goals in just 15 matches in 2020-21, earned him a big-money move to Wales.

These feats, allied to his input at Milton Keynes, were at the forefront of the mind of Michael Duff when he expressed an interest in signing him.

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It was firmed up by the club who 'knocked down the door' to bring him north, according to Hudson.

Watters added: "There were rumours for a few weeks. But when it came down to January, that was when I was really thinking about it and it was quite a good move for me.

"The manager seems honest and is not going to give me any rubbish and that's what I like. The way he plays and treats his players is also brilliant.

"I did reasonably well at Milton Keynes and we had a similarly young and ambitious group. Hopefully, I can do that here."

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On his tough time at Cardiff, he continued: "As a footballer, you don't look at a price tag. That's none of my business and out of my hands. It was a big move - leaving League Two for the Championship and it was never going to work out straightaway.

"Hopefully coming to Barnsley will help me on my road of going back to Cardiff. The manager said: 'Go and get as many games as you can - good luck and do your best."

Barnsley are to target defensive cover following the news that Tom Edwards will be out for a period of time due to a knee injury.

Duff said: "We were only ever looking to do two or three (signings). That might go up to three or four now because of Tom."

The Reds’ home derby with Sheffield Wednesday has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 21 (7.45pm).