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My Ultimate XI: James

David Hirst celebrating

Cartoon for TwitterIT’S Monday evening, and all is quiet on the Sheffield Wednesday front.

Well, today has seen Claude Dielna finally head on his merry way, and the U21s won earlier, but neither of these seem to justify writing any more about than – well – just that.

A lot has been said of Friday’s game at Wigan. Opinion has differed somewhat wildly. We’ll be chuntering about that for long enough on the podcast.

So what do I write about? If there’s one thing we’re good at doing as Wednesdayites, it’s living in the past, so let’s rock out a bit more nostalgia.

Here we go with my Ultimate Wednesday XI, not including any players from the current squad (sorry Jordan).

Now bear in mind I’m writing this after a long day at the office, after a night with not much sleep – but I’m sure you’ll call me out on anything you don’t agree with. I’d love to hear your Ultimate XI too.

Goalkeeper – Chris Turner

We’ve had some good keepers over the years. Kevin Pressman, Lee Grant, Chris Kirkland all spring to mind. Less so Chris Woods who I will never forgive for that flap. So why does Chris Turner get the nod in my ultimate XI? Simple really – THAT save in the Rumbelows Cup Final of 91. It’s as good a reason as ever. Tell you what, he was a damn fine keeper. I remember some of his performances a hell of a lot more clearly than trying to remember what the chuff Rumbelows used to sell.

Roland NilssonRight Back – Roland Nilsson

I didn’t even need to type this did I? I could have missed this section out completely because it’s just a given. Anyone that ever saw Roly play would have him in their ultimate XI quicker than he used to dance down the right wing. A true legend; a true professional; and a true gentleman. It was such a pleasure to meet him at the Class of 91 reunion – one of those truly humbling moments where you meet one of your genuine heroes.

Reda RedaLeft Back – Reda Johnson

Let’s be honest. I’d probably be picking Phil King or Nigel Worthington here, but I’m already concerned that I’m going to end up with the entirety of the team of 91. So I’ve gone for Reda. I can’t say it’s necessarily on footballing ability – Reda had a mistake in him – but for the passion and commitment he showed. Oh, and the goals too. Seeing him turning up at away games when Coventry weren’t playing was something special.

Centre Back – Des Walker

Nowadays defenders are expected to be the first line of attack. They have to carry the ball, they have to pick the right pass, they have to score goals. Des was famous for never doing the latter, despite racking up hundreds of appearances. His reading of the game was impeccable, but it was his speed which stood him apart. You’ll never get past Des Walker!

Nigel-PearsonCentre Back – Nigel Pearson

We’re back in the Class of 91 here for our skipper. To be fair, Peter Shirtliff is just as worthy of this place in the team. But Pearson was there, he was the man, he led us through that fantastic season. He was as reliable as a central defender can be, and scored some vital goals. It’s a shame his management career has gone the way that it has, and has shown him to be a bit of a pillock. He wasn’t like that when he was at Wednesday. He was the true leader.

Right Wing – Chris Waddle

Alongside Nilsson and probably one of the forthcoming striker picks, this is an easy one. What Waddle couldn’t do with a football wasn’t worth doing. He was an absolute wizard. We all remember ‘The Waddle Game’ when he tore West Ham a new one. The semi final free kick. Those effortless outside-of-the-boot beauties in the League Cup semi at Blackburn. How he didn’t get an England recall remains a travesty.

Left Wing – Benito Carbone

You’ll notice one names is missing from this team is Danny Wilson. He was a great footballer – but his time managing the club tainted his Wednesday legacy. One of his failings was his apparent inability to deal with the bigger talents of the time – Benito and Paolo namely. It’s a shame as we should only look back at the brilliance of Carbone. He had incredible pace, could pick a pearler of a pass, and a sweet sweet strike. If you’re ever bored just look him up on YouTube and relive some of the spectacular goals he netted in the blue and white.

John SheridanMidfield – John Sheridan

I worry sometimes that we didn’t appreciate John Sheridan enough at the time. Half the guys that played with him would pick him out as the best teammate they’ve ever had. Shez’s game had it all really – his vision particularly was something to marvel. Another one for the YouTube ‘watch later’ list is his free kick at Luton – a thing of absolute beauty.

Midfield – Wim Jonk

What? You’re kidding aren’t you? Yeah, don’t worry, I am…

Midfield – Carlton Palmer

When God created Carlton Palmer, he was having an off day. Maybe he was hungover. Because in this gangly, clumbsy, awkward looking fella, he put an amazing footballer. Maybe Carlton was supposed to have a 5’10” body. He always looked too big for himself and I expected him to fall over every time the ball went near him. But he didn’t – and in terms of an enforcer in the middle of the park, there were few better.

David Hirst celebratingStriker – David Hirst

What can you say about Hirsty that hasn’t been said a million times. Just stop for a moment and consider what the market value of a fit, in form, David Hirst would be today? The mind boggles. I’ve seen hundreds, nay thousands, of strikers take to the pitch at Hillsborough over years, both for and against us. I wouldn’t have swapped Hirsty for a single one of them. He was the best.

Striker – Paolo Di Canio

He was fiery. He had a right old temper on him. He probably never really gave a damn about Sheffield Wednesday. But on his day, Paolo Di Canio was unplayable. The cheer cheek of his footballing ability was outrageous. This was a guy who could win a game single handedly… when the mood took him. Every good team needs a Di Canio.

So come on – what’s your Ultimate Wednesday XI?

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About the author, James

A slave to the Wednesday since 1990. Works in radio by day; the one who sometimes try to provide something resembling analysis on the podcast by night. Usually drunk.