Carlos had a dream – and, on a wet and windy Tuesday evening in October, his dream came true! In front of a capacity crowd of close to 35,000, Sheffield Wednesday humbled Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side, 3-0.
A side boasting the likes of Giroud, Walcott and Cech. A side with £74 million’s worth of talent on the pitch. A side who, until last night, were on a formidable unbeaten run.
For many a Wednesday fan, it had been a long time coming. 15 years of frustration and disappointment all coming together in an impassioned release of ecstasy.
Whisper it quietly, but Carlos Carvahal’s men look as though they might fancy the fight for promotion this year.
It got us thinking…
15 years is an awful long time. It’s hard to believe that, until 2000, Sheffield Wednesday were a staple of the Premier League. Unless you’re a massive Wednesday-ite, you probably can’t remember who – in the better times – used to put on the iconic blue and white stripes.
So, we at Shoot thought we’d help you out.
Sheffield Wednesday’s forgotten men of the Premier League – who were they and where are they now?
Name: Chris Waddle (1992-1996)
Position: Left Midfield
Then: Wednesday signed experienced England international, Chris Waddle, in the summer of 1992 for a fee of around £1 million (believe or not, that was big money in those days). The former Newcastle United and Tottenham man was one of the finest players in his generation. His 1988 move from Spurs to Marseille saw the French club part almost £5 million – the third highest transfer fee ever. And, in a career spanning two decades, he had already won 62 caps for England and featured in a European Cup final before joining Wednesday. While with the club, the Tyne and Wear born winger picked up the Football Association’s “Footballer of the Year” award in 1993 and helped Wednesday reach the final of both the FA Cup and League Cup. He also had a relatively successful singing career on the side…
Now: Waddle currently works for ESPN as a pundit and still plays a bit of football – albeit semi-professionally. He is regarded as one of the best players in Sheffield Wednesday’s illustrious history – a terrace and media favourite. However, in a wider sense, he will be best remembered for his dodgy mullet and – perhaps unfortunately – his miss in the Italia ’90 semi-final penalty shootout against the pesky Germans.
Name: Paolo Di Canio (1997-1999)
Then: There was no denying Di Canio’s talent; he had that in abundance. However, his temperament was the real sticking point. Before moving to Wednesday, Di Canio had fallen out with a lot of his employers. His last club, Celtic, refused to offer the enigmatic Italian an improved contract and, in return, he refused to join them on their pre-season tour. On August 6, 1997, Wednesday decided to take a punt on Di Canio – signing him in a £4.7 million deal. In his first season, he was the club’s leading scorer with 12 Premier League goals. However, this joy was short-lived. In one of the most extraordinary moments in Premier League history, Di Canio pushed referee Paul Alcock to the floor after being sent off in a game against Arsenal. He was banned for 11 games and never featured for Wednesday again.
Now: Di Canio is never far away from controversy. The self-confessed fascist last hogged the limelight during an infamous spell as manager of Sunderland. Di Canio was sacked from his role in 2013 after just 13 games in charge. According to sources within the club, he had worked his players to the ground; to physical exhaustion. Before this, Di Canio had stormed onto the managerial scene as the manager of Swindon Town. In just two years with the club, he had helped them to a league title and cup final appearance. In terms of playing career, Di Canio moved onto pastures new at West Ham once his ban was completed. During a four-year spell, he became a cult hero – winning the “Hammer of the Year” in his first season. He followed this with a spell at Premier League side, Charlton Athletic. It should probably be pointed out that Di Canio is responsible for potentially the greatest goal in Premier League history – see it here!
Name: Benito Carbone (1996-1999)
Then: Despite having a lot of natural talent, Carbone’s name will be forever synonymous with Wednesday’s financial decline. When people say “yeah, Sheffield Wednesday had all those expensive Italian lads on ridiculous wages”, Carbone springs to mind. When he signed for Wednesday in 1996, Carbone was big news. He had been Inter Milan’s number 10 and, if it wasn’t for Roy Hodgson’s tactical blunders, would have probably remained at the club for many years to come. Wednesday decided to part with around £3 million for the unhappy star – and £40,000-per-week in wages. In the 1998-1999 season, Wednesday’s faith was rewarded as the Italian chipped in with nine Premier League goals and won the “Player of the Season” award. However, away from the field, Carbone’s relationship with team-mates had faltered and he had become involved in a contractual dispute. Wednesday didn’t have the money and Carbone didn’t have the patience. An acrimonious exit was on the cards.
Now: Carbone most recently worked at Leeds United as a “Special Consultant to the Board of Directors” (whatever that means). Before that, he had managed several sides in the Italian lower leagues and had expressed his interest in managing Sheffield Wednesday. After leaving Wednesday in 1999, Carbone had spells with Aston Villa, Bradford City and Parma. He – quite honourably – gave up £3.2 million in unpaid wages after being told his club at the time, Bradford City, would fold if they had to continue paying him.
Name: Des Walker
Then: “You’ll never beat Des Walker. You’ll never beat Des Walker”. On his day, Walker was one of the best centre-backs in the English top division. After eight years starring for a talented Nottingham Forest side, Walker got his glamour move to the Italian Serie A with Sven-Goran Eriksson’s high-flying Sampdoria in 1992. While in Italy, he was continually played out of position by Eriksson and, as a result, his reputation suffered. A year later, in 1993, Sheffield Wednesday signed the unhappy Walker for a hefty fee of £2.7 million. Between 1993 and 2001, Walker went on to make over 300 appearances for the club.
Now: Walker’s career lives on in the form of his son, Tyler. 18-year-old Tyler Walker is currently making waves at his dad’s former club, Nottingham Forest. In 16 games for the Championship Side, Walker has scored 2 goals. In 2007, Des was named alongside Peter Swann as Sheffield Wednesday’s greatest ever centre back. Walker finished his career back at Forest, retiring at the tender age of 38!
Name: Carlton Palmer
Position: Central Midfield
Then: Between 1989 and 1994 – and again in 2001 – Carlton Palmer played over 225 times for Sheffield Wednesday. The rangy midfielder had been bought for a fee of close to £750,000 and, despite not having the best technique in the world, was an honest and hard working professional. His box-to-box performances allowed for the likes of Waddle to thrive in-between the lines. In 1992, Palmer was handed his international debut by Graham Taylor. Over the next year or so, he was given a further 17 caps by the under-fire England manager. Unfortunately, the infamous fly-on-the-wall documentary of England’s 1994 international qualifying campaign left Palmer’s reputation in tatters. Despite being respected by his peers and managers alike, Palmer became emblematic of Graham Taylor’s failures.
Now: Since 2014, Palmer has been working as a director of sport at a college in Shanghai. He also works as a pundit and has even featured on a celebrity version of “Come Dine With Me”. Despite having a successful career, which included FA Cup and League Cup finals, Palmer has been cursed by lazy journalism and an unshakable tag. He was named as the second worst player to ever feature for England by the Daily Mail. His inability to ‘knock it’ in the infamous documentary and his inclusion in all 10 of the 1994 qualifier games was deemed enough justification for the said paper. However, for many Wednesday fans, Palmer was an essential linchpin in their midfield. Palmer left Wednesday in 1994, going on to play for Leeds United, Southampton and Nottingham Forest before retiring in 2005.