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Watford’s Adrian Mariappa: ‘I can’t see myself going back to eating meat’

Veganism, athletics and basketball have helped the defender defy the odds and reach an FA Cup quarter-final against Crystal Palace

It is three years since Watford last played Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, the Eagles prevailing at Wembley in the 2016 semi-finals. It is a match which carries particularly strong memories for Adrian Mariappa: as a graduate of Watford’s youth system he was looking forward to facing his former club on the nation’s greatest stage, but what could have been one of the highlights of his career became one of its greatest disappointments.

“I travelled but I didn’t make the bench, and I was devastated,” he recalls. “Devastated. We played a league game during the week and I started that game. I came to Wembley, playing Watford, my hometown club, and when I found out I wasn’t involved at all, not even on the bench, it was gut-wrenching at the time. I tried to keep a positive outlook for the guys who were playing, and it was a great day for the club, but it wasn’t a nice feeling.”

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