Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United: Taking a step down to help boyhood idols up

David Jones
David Jones
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David Jones is on a mission to help his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday return to the Premier League.

A week ago, the midfielder was kicking off another season in the Premier League with Burnley.

But the chance to play for the Owls – Jones grew up supporting Wednesday – was too good an opportunity to reject, and he arrived at Hillsborough this week for an undisclosed fee.

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Jones donned the No 8 shirt of his Wednesday idol Chris Waddle as a youngster, before launching a career which started at Manchester United and has seen him promoted four times from the Championship with Sunderland, Derby County and Burnley twice. That is just one shy of the record set by striker Kevin Phillips.

Now the experienced midfielder wants a nap hand and bring a top-flight return for Wednesday after a 16-year exile.

“Wednesday were the first team I supported as a kid, I had a No 8 Waddle shirt, and really enjoyed following the team at a young age,” said Jones, who used to live between Wrexham and Chester as a child.

“Once I signed for Manchester United as a youngster, obviously you just follow your own career and the team you are playing for at that time.

“My uncle supported Wednesday, I suppose the influence came from that.

“They had a great team then, but as happens in football, clubs have their ups and downs.

“Now, I think I have joined the club at a good time and the chance to progress.

“It’s a massive club with a great fan base. Whenever I have played at Hillsborough it’s been rocking.

“It will be a nice to be with them this time, not on the away team.

“There’s just something special about Wednesday.

“It’s always been a club, the first team that you support, that you follow and take an interest in. It add that little bit of extra something to joining Wednesday.

“I used to go to games whenever my dad could get me tickets. Waddle was my favourite player.”

Asked why, he quipped: “His haircut. No just his balance, a good left foot and a really exciting player.

“As a kid that’s what you want to see, exciting players.”

The current Wednesday team are probably as close to the halcyon days of Waddle, Sheridan, Hirst as most Owls fans can remember.

They were just 90 minutes away from a Premier League return in May, only to lose out to Hull City in the Championship final.

The additions of players with Premier League experience like Watford’s Amen Abdi, Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher and Jones has improved the quality of the Owls squad.

But the latter is taking nothing for granted in a league featuring three relegated Premier League clubs who will be in the reckoning for promotion come May.

“This season we would like to see a progression, but this league is very difficult to get out of,” said Jones, who netted against Wednesday at Turf Moor last season.

“There are a lot of good teams – especially the Premier League teams who came down, all big clubs – so there is nothing we can take for granted. The aim will be to see the club and team move forward this season.”

Jones started for Burnley last Saturday in their Premier League opener against Swansea City.

He admits his transfer was something of a whirlwind few days.

“It was a surprise move,” he said. “I had three good years at Burnley and really enjoyed it, I wasn’t searching to leave the club.

“But, when the opportunity came up, I talked to the manager at Burnley, and thought it was the right time for me to move on and embrace another challenge.

“I am quite experienced in this league so, hopefully, I can bring that to this team.

“It all happened quickly. I played last weekend in the Premier League, so it all happened from Sunday, a lot of decisions had to be made quickly. I just felt it was the right decision.

“We all want to play in the Premier League, I have played there before, but just weighing up everything, there was just an excitement to join Wednesday and get involved.

“I am still looking to improve my game, and thought this was a good opportunity here.”

So having experienced promotion from the Championship four times, how does he feel Wednesday measure up? Jones replied: “There’s a lot of ingredients. For the team to come close last season, they have obviously got a lot of them.

“Key ones are team spirit – without that you are not going to achieve anything – and you can tell they have that here.

“There’s a lot of quality at Wednesday, competition for places, and that can only be good for the team.”

The Owls have strengthened defence with the signing of Frenchman Vincent Sasso, 25 – he spent last season on loan at Hillsborough – on a permanent deal from Portuguese club Braga.