OWLS ABOUT THAT
Wednesday’s quiet man Kieran Lee is starting to make himself heard
PLAYING football and harbouring a love for the limelight usually go hand-in-hand but try telling that to Kieran Lee – Sheffield Wednesday’s silent assassin who once considered becoming a fireman to avoid the attention.
The 26-year-old has certainly been making headlines of late with goals in successive games against Brentford and Bournemouth. However, most journalists looking to get a word with the shy Mancunian have been given short shrift.
Lee admits he intentionally ducks the post-match responsibilities to head back home to Stalybridge, the town in Greater Manchester where he was born and still lives, as soon as possible.
Yet his performances for the Owls over the past few months are certainly worth shouting about, even if the modest central midfielder refuses to talk himself up.
Indeed Lee, a Manchester United academy graduate, revealed he gave some thought to swapping his boots for a fireman’s hose before his career really set alight.
“I’ve always wanted to play football, the fire fighting idea was mainly a back-up in case football didn’t work out,” said Lee, who cut his teeth at Medlock Rangers and Glossop North End before his big break.
“I try and avoid all the limelight, all the attention. I’ve done a couple of interviews here and there, but I try to stay out of all that usually!
“I’m quiet, but I’ve stuck with football and I’ve enjoyed it all the way through from Man United to Sheff Wednesday, so there’s no need to turn to fire fighting just yet!”
The reason for Lee’s humble approach owes much to his parents – Denise and Pete – who opened their door to foster a number of children during his childhood.
“They’ve always been supportive of me, but the main thing they instilled in me was to always enjoy the football, it was never about the money or anything like that,” added Lee, one of six brothers.
“As you get a little bit older it’s nice to pay them back for taking me to training virtually every day and keeping me going. When things got tough they supported me, so it’s nice to have that.
“They used to look after loads of kids, but they’ve got to the point where they want to relax and you can’t really blame them!”
Lee got his first taste of the bigtime when he scored the last-minute, extra-time winner on his Manchester United debut against Crewe in the League Cup back in 2006.
That year he was also named captain of the reserve side at Old Trafford – no mean feat for a selfconfessed introvert.
“Growing up as a United fan, to score on your debut with the last kick of the game was a dream come true,” he continued. “I didn’t think at that point that it was such a big thing, I was just enjoying it really and to be on the pitch was a privilege.”
In those days he operated at full-back, now he’s a lynchpin of the Owls’ midfield but his future is far from certain with a new contract yet to be offered to the former Oldham and QPR man.
Despite starring for the Owls this term, the £30m takeover by the Thai Union Frozen Group in January has left a cloud of uncertainty for many of the players whose deals run out this summer.
That doubt has been added to this week by the forming of “a three-man sporting director by committee” at Hillsborough, with Adam Pearson and Glenn Roeder brought in to work alongside head coach Stuart Gray.
“I’m not too sure what is happening next year yet,” he concedes. “There’s been the takeover and new staff appointed the other day, so I’m guessing I’ll find out pretty soon what their plans are.
“I’m not worrying about it. I’d like to stay at Wednesday but it’s up to them. I’ll just have to wait and see.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot more the last couple of seasons and I’m getting a few goals now. It’s nice to score but the performances of the team have been pleasing as well.”
DREAM DEBUT: Lee nets the Man Utd winner at Crewe Right: Stuart Gray, Glenn Roeder and Adam Pearson FULL FORCE: Owls goalscorer Kieran Lee battles with Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie in last Saturday’s dramatic 2-2 draw