Sheffield Wednesday v Blackpool: Semedo aiming to repay fans for their tribute

Jose Semedo
Jose Semedo
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Sheffield Wednesday supporters are planning a ‘Portugal Day’ in honour of their midfield lynchpin Jose Semedo.

Wednesday have sold their full allocation of 4,300 tickets for the game at Nottingham Forest on Saturday week.

And plans are afoot among fan groups to use the away game to honour their combative defensive midfielder by carrying Portuguese flags and red and green balloons.

When he learned of this yesterday, when speaking ahead of tonight’s Championship encounter with Blackpool, Semedo had to choke back tears.

“I can’t explain what it means,” said the 27-year-old, who was born in Setubal and moved to England in 2007.

“If it happens it would be something special and I would never forget it.

“Since I’ve been here the fans have been amazing and I have such a big love for them.

“I hope we do well and win more games to repay them.

“I had a good relationship with the fans at Charlton (his previous club) but nothing like this.

“This is the best time in my life. It’s unbelievable.”

Semedo has been a fan favourite ever since he made the trip north from The Valley 18 months ago.

He was a vital part of the side that won promotion from League One, first under Gary Megson and then Dave Jones.

Establishing himself as a mainstay of that midfield in the first months of the Championship season has not been as easy.

But after comfortably executing his role as protective enforcer in front of Wednesday’s back four in the win over Peterborough, Jones hailed the performance as Semedo’s best of the campaign so far.

“That’s my job, to work as hard as I can every game,” said Semedo.

“If he says I have had a good game then that’s good, but more importantly it was good to get that second win.”

What is helping Semedo is the formation Jones has adopted. The seasoned Championship operator has switched to a 4-5-1, with recognised striker Jay Bothroyd employed more as a winger.

It may look negative on the face of it, but it has finally served to shore up Wednesday at the back, and with the guile of Bothroyd and the sheer pace of Michail Antonio, the Owls have the ability to swiftly become a three-man strike-force.

It has also made Semedo’s job that little bit easier, with two young men either side of him ready to take the ball off his feet when he has won it back.

Jones has a trio of youngsters to call upon to fill those two creative roles, with Everton loanee Ross Barkley, Rangers product Rhys McCabe and Irish prospect Paul Corry all proving more than capable.

It was Barkley and Corry on Saturday before the latter’s injury midway through the first half saw McCabe thrown into the fray.

“Ross and Rhys are very good players, especially for their age,” said Semedo of the 18- and 20-year-olds.

“They are so much more experienced and mature than I was when I was their age.

“They don’t need much help at all.

“Ross is a top player. I’m sure he’s going to be one of the best midfielders.

“You can see all the time that he wants the ball, he wants to do something with it.

“He is hungry for the ball and looking to do the spectacular. Rhys is a fantastic player and he’s the brains of the team.

“They are both such good players. They are very mentally stable, they don’t think of themselves as something fantastic, they just want to play.

“It makes life easier for me because it lets me rest.”

While Jones was keen to lavish praise on Semedo for his performance on Saturday, he was quick to add the caveat that like a lot of senior players, he is still learning the ropes in the Championship.

“It was his best game for what he does best, breaking up the play,” said Jones.

“We are trying to get him on the ball a bit more, but he gives us so much security in front of the back four.

“There’s still a lot of football to be played, and more importantly, a lot of learning to be done by all the players.

“Hopefully we have had our bad run now and it’s come at the right time, not at the end of the season when that would be the wrong time.”

A victory tonight would take the Owls level on points with Blackpool, who were top of the table a little over a month ago.

Last six games: Sheff Weds DLDLWW; Blackpool WLLDDL.

Last time: Sheff Weds 0 Blackpool 3; February 27, 2012; FA Cup.

Referee: A D’Urso (Essex).