STEVE WATSON has labelled today’s Vanarama National League North play-off semi-final as the most important of his career.

York City host Altrincham at Bootham Crescent this afternoon (3pm) knowing that they are only two wins away from a return to the National League.

And manager Watson did not play down the significance of the play-offs to the club and to himself.

During a hugely successful playing career, Watson made over 350 appearances in the Premier League and played at some of the world’s most famous grounds - featuring in an FA Cup final at Wembley and is a Champions League tie at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

However, he says that today’s game is the most important of the lot.

“This is my most important game, absolutely, I’ve said that to the players” said Watson.

“The next chapter in my life and career is to be the most successful manager possible for me, and this is without a doubt the biggest day of my career as well.

“I’ve said to the players, even the players who have been promoted, it has to be the same for you because to have a promotion on your CV, your futures, your next contract, everything depends on it.

“Ultimately, we have only got three contracted players for next season, so it’s huge for everybody involved.

“I know it’s not life and death compared to some things that have gone on – and I always try to make a point of saying that because the world has changed completely.

“Thousands have lost lives, thousands have lost jobs, thousands have lost businesses.

“But in football terms, my career terms and the players’, this is huge, absolutely huge, and for the fans and the club.

“The club has come off the back of four really disappointing years for them, two relegations and two probably below mid-table finishes.

“When I came to the club, my goal was to immediately try to turn it around.

“To all intents and purposes, we still consider ourselves to have finished at the top of the league.

“Obviously point-per-game has made us finish second, but still from where we have been for four years to where we are now, whatever happens the club is certainly going back in the right direction and where a club like York and the fans deserve it to be.

“We just want to finish the job off, we desperately want to finish the job off.”

Should York get past Altrincham today, they would then face either Boston United or Gateshead, the club he left to join City.

“I speak to the lads, not so much Mike [Williamson, manager], I speak to the assistant Ian [Watson] quite a bit,” said Watson.

“Listen, I had a great time there. They gave me my start in management.

“The decision I made, I think everybody understands, everybody knew what was going on at the club, everybody knew the club I’d joined, it was a fantastic opportunity for me.

“But that’s way down the line for me in my thought process. We know through the four games since I’ve been here with Altrincham that they’re a very, very good side and I’d never do them any disrespect by thinking about any game beyond it.

“This game is all-important.”