Sheffield-raised Vaughan occasionally turned out for Sunday morning team Bradway FC when Wilder was joint-manager.
Vaughan sees the same traits in Wilder now, and even as a Sheffield Wednesday fan, cannot help but admire that.
“Bradway used to play on a Sunday morning and I’d go and watch them,” the former England Yorkshire batsman recalled. “Every now and then because they were short, I’d stand on the touchline and maybe get on. We used to train on a Wednesday night at Abbeydale Park and we’d play two hours of non-stop eight-a-side, nine-a-side, and it was full-on.
“He was hammering everyone and then on a Sunday he’d be properly into them all. It was all about effort and if you weren’t putting a shift in he lobbed you off. It’s exactly the same at United now.”
Former Blades full-back Wilder entered professional management at non-league Alfreton, and has worked up from there.
He was last season’s League Managers Association manager of the year ahead of Premier League champion Pep Guardiola and European Cup winner Jurgen Klopp.
It was reward for taking his boyhood club into the top-flight, his second promotion there having taken over in League One.
With the Blades seventh in the Premier League when the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to games, he must have a good chance of retaining the award if he can lead them into Europe for the first time in the club’s history.
“There’s the die-hard blues who just can’t see through their lenses but I think the rest of Sheffield looks at him and thinks, ‘I’m proud of him’,” said Vaughan.
“You can see him as a Sheffield kid.
“He gets on the bus, goes to training, runs to the ground, people see him cycling down the road to the training ground. He’s still Chris Wilder that managed Bradway.
“The spirit he created at Bradway, he told me he’s tried to get it everywhere he’s gone, whether it was Northampton, Halifax or Sheffield United, he really believes in people. He believes in having normal people who are desperate (to succeed) and have a point to prove. That’s what he’s achieving at Sheffield United. Clearly, they’ve got a lot of talent as well but he likes that desperation in a player.”
Team spirit is built slightly differently in pub teams to Premier League sides, of course.
“As soon as the game finished we used to get our kit on and we’d always meet down Ecclesall Road and end up by probably seven or eight o’clock at night in the Cricketer’s Arms behind the away end at Bramall Lane,” said Vaughan. “Who was the landlord? (Former Blades striker) Billy Whitehurst, dressed in his Elvis outfit singing.”
Vaughan was speaking to Colin Murray’s 52 podcast, sponsored by Grosvenor Casinos.
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