TOUMANI Diagouraga has revealed that Swindon Town legend Dave Hockaday had a small but pivotal role in giving him his chance in English football.

The two initially crossed paths back at then Championship side Watford back in 2004.

Hockaday, who played more than 300 times for Swindon between 1983 and 1990, first laid eyes on Frenchman Diagouraga as a teenager while the former Town man was an U18 coach at Vicarage Road.

After recruiting the physical midfielder, the now 31-year-old struggled to make an impact for the Hornets and departed the club after making only six senior appearances.

Diagouraga had left his family in Paris to pursue a career as a professional across the Channel, and says he was not willing to give up on his dream and return to France, despite how difficult it was to live in a different country.

“I remember it, I remember I played two games. One was for the U16s, I was 15 at the time and after about half and hour they told me to come off,” said Diagouraga.

“I thought I’d had a bad game, but they told me they wanted me to play with the older players afterwards.

“So, I played again afterwards and I ended up going on trial with Watford for a couple of months.

“It’s tough because you end up leaving your family in Paris, but where I come from, there are not a lot of opportunities.

“It was something I had to grab and make the most of.

“The different culture and language was very difficult, but at the time, Watford had another three French players, so that made it a bit easier.

“I had an English teacher for two years, who helped me with my English, and the rest is history, really.

“I have no regrets because I always wanted to be a professional footballer, so when the chance came to come to Watford, it was a no-brainer, really.”

Shortly after crossing over to England, former Peterborough United player Diagouraga says it soon became apparent that the style of play would be slightly different to what he was used to in his native Paris.

However, the Frenchman has seen a change in that tactical approach in recent times, which has led the English game to lean towards a more European blueprint.

“When I first came to England, the game was played very differently to how it was played in France,” added Diagouraga.

“The European style of play was a lot different, but now you can see England are doing really well at youth level.”