“Ten years later, I still can’t make head nor tail of it. I don’t spend my evenings beating myself up about it or watching replays, because it’s not one of my happiest memories. But the worst part is that we still don’t really know how, or why, the officials got it so wrong.”

That’s the opinion of former Watford FC skipper John Eustace, on the ghost goal which has to go down as one of the most bizarre moments in Vicarage Road history, in the seventh volume of Tales from the Vicarage, Captains.

“We were under the cosh, defending a corner from our left flank. I think John-Joe O’Toole contests it at the near post but he doesn’t get a touch, and as it comes into our six-yard box I manage to block it and bundle it behind off my hip, three or four yards wide of the post.

“It’s gone out of play before Noel Hunt hooks it back into the box and Scott [Loach] fingertips André Bikey’s header against the bar, which was a brilliant save, but the whistle has already gone and everyone’s running back towards the halfway line. As far as I can tell, nobody is claiming anything – every single player believes it’s a Watford goal-kick or the ref ’s seen an infringement.

“The next thing I know, all hell’s breaking loose and he’s awarded a goal. Between them, I don’t understand how officials can get it so wrong. I know a referee may be misled by his assistant, but we all know the facts. The ball never crossed the line between the goalposts.”

Although certainly memorable, the ghost goal won’t go down as one of Eustace’s happier moments at Watford FC, but despite all that he does have a soft spot for the Golden Boys and won’t rule out making a comeback on the coaching side of things.

“Franco [Gianfranco Zola] sat down with me and said, ‘We can’t offer you a playing contract, but if you would like to join the coaching staff, we would like you to stay and the door is open.’ That was a huge compliment, and if I had been a couple of years older I’m sure I would have jumped at the opportunity.

“Watford is a fantastic club, they looked after me great, and I would love to go back there eventually,” he reveals. “To leave Vicarage Road with the possibility of picking up almost where I left off, speaks volumes for Watford’s class.

“Where I would fit in now is a good question – they have been in the Premier League for three years already, and they are doing great. They have built a good squad, the ground looks fantastic and they are well on the way to establishing themselves at that level. But I’m just grateful that when the time came to move on – and I carried on playing for another two seasons at Derby – we parted on the best of terms. That means a lot in football.”

Captains retails at £10 and can be ordered here.