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Watford's Andre Gray learns from mistakes to continue rapid rise

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy has long been seen as the rags-to-riches success story, going from non-league to the Premier League, but Watford's Andre Gray has followed a similar path in a shorter time despite making mistakes along the way.

After being released by local side Wolverhampton Wanderers and then Shrewsbury Town, striker Gray signed for non-league Hinckley United, and initially struggled to get among the goals.

Off the pitch, Gray got in with the wrong crowd, becoming involved in Wolverhampton's gang culture, during which time he got a nasty scar on his cheek after an incident in late 2011.

Then with one transfer Gray's life changed. After impressing against Luton Town for Hinckley, he earned a move to the then-Conference Premier club in 2012, and the rest is history.

Gray's goals for Luton -- 47 in 88 league games after a short spell on loan there -- attracted plenty of suitors, with Championship club Brentford securing his services in 2014.

The step up did not phase him as he scored 18 goals in 47 league appearances, attracting the attention of Burnley who broke their transfer record to sign Gray for 9 million pounds ($12.39 million) the following year.

Burnley won promotion to the Premier League in Gray's first season there, and the journey to the top was complete.

However, Gray's past reared its ugly head once more in 2016, when homophobic tweets he sent in 2012 were discovered, leading to an FA suspension.

The next step for Gray was another club-record move, this time to Watford for a reported fee of 18 million pounds before the start of this season.

Things have not gone as swimmingly, with Gray in and out of the team having netted just four league goals this term, but the substantial fee Watford paid does not hang heavy.

Premier League bottom side West Bromwich Albion are up next for mid-table Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday, with the visitors themselves facing plenty of problems in recent months.

West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez was charged by the FA for alleged racial abuse, while four players were questioned by police in Barcelona over the theft of a taxi.

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