Adrian Mariappa admits his love for Watford meant he would happily have remained with the club if not for the lure of trying his hand in the Premier League once again.
A Hornets Academy graduate, Mariappa made over 250 first-team appearances for the Hertfordshire outfit spread over seven seasons, including the club's top-flight campaign of 2006/07.
And with his stock steadily rising, Watford knocked back a handful of bids for his services in the January transfer window. But the defender, 25, finally departed Vicarage Road earlier this week after newly-promoted Reading had a 'significant' undisclosed offer accepted.
And Mariappa has told Watford's official website: "I have an awful lot to thank Watford FC and everyone connected with the club for. With the options I had this summer, the thing I couldn't get away from was the chance to play in the Premier League.
"I've got so much affection for this club that I could quite easily have stayed here and decided to ignore other choices. I know I would have been happy doing that. But there would have been something nagging away at me questioning why I didn't give the Premier League another crack of the whip. So that's what I'm doing.
"I hope all the fans at Watford understand that this is no disrespect to them or the club, just something I feel I have a great chance to do at an ideal stage in my career."