Sheffield Wednesday v Stoke City – Well-travelled Hector is happy to consider putting down roots

ROLE REVERSAL: Michael Hector, in action for Hull City against Sheffield Wednesday last season. Picture: Steve Ellis
ROLE REVERSAL: Michael Hector, in action for Hull City against Sheffield Wednesday last season. Picture: Steve Ellis
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Sheffield Wednesday defender Michael Hector has a point to prove on his return to Yorkshire.

The 26-year-old endured a tough campaign in the Championship with Hull City last season, after arriving on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Fresh from being relegated out of the Premier League, the Tigers struggled to adapt to life back in the second tier and finished a lowly 18th in the table.

Hector accepts his part in Hull’s troubled season, but is hoping a fresh start at the Owls – on another season-long loan – can kickstart his career and even earn a permanent move to Hillsborough.

“At Hull, it was a tough time for me personally,” admitted Hector. “I didn’t perform as I should have, and the team didn’t perform.

“Coming back to the Championship, I have a point to prove that I can perform at this level.

For me it’s very important to build a foundation. I kind of did that at Reading, for 18 months. I have a young family and it would be beneficial for us to have a base. Obviously, it’s not worked out that way yet, but you never know.

Michael Hector

“They (Wednesday) are a massive club, with massive history, and I can’t wait to get going.”

Fresh from their Premier League adventure, Hull were a big scalp in the Championship last year.

Today’s visitors to Hillsborough, Stoke City, know that feeling having won just once in six outings since dropping out of the top flight.

Hector – who hopes to make his Owls debut today – said: “On paper Stoke’s squad is a very good Championship squad, players who have played a lot of games in the Premier League.

“You can see they are struggling a bit, but in the Championship there are so many games so you can quickly pick up points and climb the table. It will be a tough game on Saturday.

“We had the same thing at Hull last season, we had a good team on paper, but in the Championship no-one really cares about your reputation, or your career before.

“It’s all about the game. Some of the players at Stoke might think their reputations can get them through the game, but there is no respect at all in the Championship.”

Jamaica international Hector has struggled to make an impact at Stamford Bridge having joined his boyhood club in a £4m move from Reading in 2015. He has yet to play for the Blues but the defender – who spent a season in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016-17 – was tempted to Hillsborough for the chance of working with manager Jos Luhukay.

Although the Dutch boss was virtually an unknown in English football, when he was appointed by the Owls in January, Luhukay has a rich CV in Germany.

“I spoke to the manager, and working in Germany, the way he spoke – his philosophy on the game – interested me a lot,” said Hector.

“I wanted to sit down and have a proper chat with him.

“When he came over in January, I knew of him having played in Germany.

“He is a big name in German football, done very well in bringing teams up from the second league. And those teams have sustained themselves in the Bundesliga. For me it’s a privilege to work with him.

“His philosophy is he wants to play from the back, he thinks that I can help the team.

“He says it’s a good changing room, with some good, hungry young players coming in this season. I try and play out from the back. I can be a little aggressive as well, which you need to be as a defender.

“I try and play and help build up attacks. But if you need to get nasty, I can be horrible sometimes. I have a bit of both.”

Hector has just returned from Jamaica and the USA after international duty, so is just settling into life at Hillsborough.

“It was my first day (training on Thursday), and it seems a good set-up,” he said. “I have just played two games for Jamaica so I feel good, fresh – obviously a little bit jet-lagged.

“Travelling is a good experience, you get to see places which sometimes you would never get to see.

“You see different cultures, different ways of playing football, and I am still learning.”

Hector certainly has experience of playing at various clubs – this season is his fourth different club in as many seasons after Reading (15-16), Frankfurt (16-17), Hull (17-18) and Wednesday – but the defender is open to leaving Chelsea on a permanent basis.

“Chelsea was the club I supported growing up so when the chance came to sign there it really was a no-brainer,” he added.

“Not getting an opportunity there was frustrating, but every transfer window they can bring in anyone that they want.

“It’s frustrating not getting a chance, but that’s just football.

“You never know what the future holds. If I went back and had a good pre-season, you never know what manager is going to be there. Sometimes opportunities come at times you least expect.

“Every loan I go on I always give my all and think this is where I want to stay. It’s not changed me coming here. It’s about finding the right place and the right team for me to grow into.

“You never know what will happen come the end of the season.

“Right now, I am only here on loan, and just want to work hard. For me it’s very important to build a foundation. I kind of did that at Reading, for 18 months. I have a young family and it would be beneficial for us to have a base. Obviously, it’s not worked out that way yet, but you never know.”

As for targets this season, Hector is refusing to look too long-term.

“I know the club’s history, getting to the semi-finals and final of the play-offs, and it’s a club which wants to push for the Premier League,” he said.

“But you have realise there is probably about 14 other clubs in the Championship that all expect to be in the top six.”

The Owls and BBC Radio Sheffield have thrashed out a new deal to provide match commentaries, starting next week, after negotiations stalled in the summer.