Watford manager Malky Mackay felt Lloyd Doyley typified his side's spirit as they came from behind to beat QPR 3-1.
Patrick Agyemang gave the visitors a 33rd-minute lead against the run of play before left-back Doyley drew level 10 minutes later with his first-ever senior goal.
Don Cowie put the hosts in front in the 56th minute and Tom Cleverley sealed a deserved victory late on to send the Hornets into the top six and cap a memorable evening for Doyley.
The fans' favourite, who turned 27 last week, joined the Hornets aged 11 and was making his 269th appearance for the club.
Cleverley had to tell Doyley where to celebrate after his superb diving header and even Mackay admitted he was shocked to see who had scored.
"A strangeness passed over me," he told Sky Sports. "I played with the guy and it's the closest I've ever seen him near the goal.
"It's a great testament to him. He's a fantastic professional and a great example to any youngsters at the club.
"He's played a great amount of games for someone so young, and he's one of the best one-on-one defending full-backs in this division.
"To get his first goal tonight was quite special and it was a fantastic goal as well, a great header."
Watford had suffered two successive defeats on the road but bounced back in style to leapfrog their local rivals.
"I think we showed our resilience in spades tonight," Mackay added. "To come back shows that we've got belief in ourselves.
"We went a goal behind when we were pushing for the opener but we had the belief to keep doing what we were doing.
"We needed to keep creating, keep passing the ball, finding little spaces and little holes, and we did that."