From: Nottingham Forest - £200,000 - June 1997
Record: Played: 45(1) Scored: 11
To: Chesterfield - £250,000 - August 1998
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Better than Devon White. Oh, yes.
To recycle the title of this section, Jason Lee has gone but he shouldn't be forgotten.
For all his very obvious and much highlighted faults, he deserves to be remembered
with some affection.
Since Paul Furlong's departure, successive Watford managers have rummaged around the
divisions for a centre forward. Peter Beadle, Paul Wilkinson, Kerry Dixon, Keith Scott and
Devon White have come and gone, none of them able to play that pivotal role with any kind of consistency.
That's the context in which we must judge Jason Lee.
And the verdict must be a positive one. Lee was a vital piece in the Championship-winning
jigsaw, so aerially dominant as to be taken for granted, considerably better than might
be expected when the ball was played into his chest or feet, capable of bundling in goals
at crucial moments. No amount of urine extracting from opposition fans or frustrated abuse
from some sections of the home support could change the fact that he was the authentic number
nine we'd been searching for.
Most of the doubts raised stem from an inability to accept his limitations. He's not a
natural goalscorer, as a rather awkward five month barren spell proved. He's not well suited
to a short passing game. He's only able to do as much as the service will allow. But he was bought to do a job, to be a target man. Anything else -
and he occasionally turned his hand to most things with varying results - was a definite bonus.
In the end, his wife's refusal to move from Nottingham (frustrating but somehow admirable) seemed to spark off a rather
tetchy relationship with Graham Taylor. Lee never quite seemed to fit in at Watford.
I still think we'll regret selling him. A few days ago, I watched Watford wingers sling vague crosses onto
the heads of experienced, untroubled central defenders as we lost at home to Wolves. On such occasions,
it'll be hard not to think of Lee's ball-winning ability in the air - those defenders
might not've been quite so untroubled....
He leaves behind some extremely fond recollections. No-one will ever be able to forget
the all-clinching winner at Fulham, mis-hit from the edge of the area and bobbling its
way past the keeper as the sun-drenched terrace primed itself for explosion. Victoria
station reverberated to the sound of "Jason Lee, Jason Lee, Jason Lee" late that night as two
very drunk, very happy Watford fans staggered and crawled back to Brighton. Cheers, Jase.