Goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith has spent over six years at Sheffield Wednesday, continually making forward career progression moving from the academy to the first-team set-up.
The 19-year-old initially signed professionally with the Owls back in November 2013 after impressive and consistent performances at youth level.
Joe spent time on loan at Alfreton in 2014 before, on March 28th 2015, making his professional debut against Bristol City having signed for Barnsley on a one-month emergency loan deal. On top of that, he has also had a call-up to the England Under-20s squad.
Just last month, Wildsmith made his senior Owls debut against Mansfield Town in the League Cup 1st round. Carlos Carvalhal expressed his confidence in Joe previous to the fixture claiming he “slept very well” knowing the number 28 was keeping the goal. In addition, Wednesday won the fixture 4-1 and Joe made a couple of quality instinctive saves to match his impressive performance throughout the 90 minutes.
Subsequently, Wildsmith, who has extended his stay at Hillsborough until the summer of 2017, replaced the injured Kieran Westwood in the 59th minute against Ipswich at Portman Road soon after, again putting in a reassuring performance to match his clean sheet in the remaining 31 minutes.
This week I caught up with Joe to ask him about the past, present and future of Sheffield Wednesday.
Q: Proudest moment in your career to date?
A: My debut vs Mansfield Town in the League Cup, even more so as my family were watching.
Q: Favourite childhood player?
A: Edwin Van Der Sar
Q: Current favourite player(s)?
A: Manuel Neuer and Joe Hart. Hart is an inspiration being an England International.
Q: Best friend at the club?
A: Cameron Dawson. We have come through the academy together and spend time together on and off the pitch.
Q: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
A: Nothing in particular. Generally I like to keep things simple, warm up and stay focused.
Q: Future aspirations?
A: Game time is key. I want to play as much as possible even if this means me going on loan to develop even further.
Q: What other team’s results do you look out for and why?
A: Barnsley and Alfreton Town having been there on loan previously.
Q: Having come through the academy and being at Sheffield Wednesday for six years, what’s your number one tip you can you give to all young aspiring Goalkeepers?
A: To come through the academy you have to work hard. Sometimes when you are younger you feel like you’re missing out while others are out enjoying themselves at parties etc. Continue to work hard, stay focused on your dream and you realise it’s worth it in the end.
Q: Having experienced international goalkeepers Price and Westwood at the club, what’s the best advice they have given you going forward in your career?
A: Again, work hard, give 100%. They have both been in my shoes. We share the best training ideas. Also, I would like to thank Andy Rhodes, he his a fantastic goalkeeping coach and I have learnt a lot from him.
Q: How does it feel for Carvalhal to say he can “sleep easy at night” knowing you’re in goal?
A: It’s such a great feeling and it also gave me confidence. It’s a nice feeling knowing I must have impressed him and the coaches, especially as they are new to Sheffield Wednesday. It is also nice for my family to hear him sing my praises.
Q: Where do you see yourself and Sheffield Wednesday in three years?
A: Sheffield Wednesday should be back where they belong in the Premier League. With the money we have spent and the new players I think we will push on each season and make forward progression. I am hoping to be part of that set up and stay at Sheffield Wednesday as long as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joe for his time and for answering my questions. Myself and every Sheffield Wednesday fan alike wish him all the best for the future and one day hope to see you keeping clean sheets for the Owls in the Premier League.