Born in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, Watson started his career at Notts County before moving to Rotherham United in 1967.
He started his career as a centre forward, and he scored a total of 21 goals in 141 appearances for Rotherham, before making the move to Sunderland in 1971.
He was brought in as a centre-forward for Sunderland as they looked to return to the top-flight, but after a couple of seasons struggling in the second division, Sunderland appointed Bob Stokoe as manager.
Stokoe had moved Watson into Centre-half and he never looked back.
In just his first season in charge, Sunderland made it to the F.A Cup final against Leeds United.
Sunderland won the game 1-0 thanks to am Ian Porterfield goal, but Dave Watson really impressed in defence as he was a key figure in keeping Leeds strikers, Mick Jones, and Allan Clarke out.
Despite playing his football in the second division with Sunderland, Watson continued to impress and he was even called up to Alf Ramsey’s England squad, less than one year after the F.A Cup triumph.
He was given his debut in Alf Ramsey’s final game in charge in a friendly against Portugal in Lisbon.
Although he didn’t make his international debut until he was 27, Watson went on to make 65 appearances for the 3 Lions.
Watson spent a total of 4-and-a-half seasons with The Black Cats, playing 212 games and scoring a total of 33 goals.
In his final 2 seasons, unfortunately, he was not able to help Sunderland gain promotion, missing out by just two points in both of them seasons.
However, he did stand out as he was picked in the PFA Division 2 Team of The Season in the 1973-74 season and then again the following campaign.
After his continuous form in the Second Division, he finally went on to spend the majority of the rest of his career in the top-flight with Manchester City, Southampton, and Stoke City.
Watson also enjoyed short stints at Werder Bremen in Germany and Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada before finishing his career back in England, spending one season with Derby County and then he returned to his boyhood club, Notts County.
He retired in 1985 at Notts County, and he played a total of 810 career games, scoring 79 goals.