Sheffield Wednesday v Watford - Milestone beckons for Kadeem Harris

THE saying ‘don’t get mad, get even’ is one that will resonate with everyone connected with Sheffield Wednesday in their current predicament.

For winger Kadeem Harris, it has taken on personal significance in his career and his own journey can serve as an inspiration to his club in their present-day story.

The Londoner’s seven-year stint at previous club Cardiff City, a club whom he joined at the age of 19, was an exercise in frustration for fair spells.

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It contained some peaks, but a fair few troughs with Harris suffering his share of bench splinters in the Principality, with injuries compounding his situation.

Kadeem Harris: Set for 50th Owls appearance. Picture: Steve Ellis

Harris made just one start in his first season in South Wales in 2012-13 when Cardiff breezed to the Championship title – and was farmed out on loan to Brentford during the Bluebirds’ subsequent Premier League campaign.

Just five starts arrived under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Russell Slade in 2014-15 and in the following season, he spent a loan stint at Barnsley ahead of what looked a breakthrough year under Neil Warnock in 2016-17.

Then, an unfortunate injury stymied his progress and his time fizzled out ahead of him relighting his career at Wednesday, a club that has quickly seeped into his soul.

The promise that persuaded Cardiff to sign him as a teenager is being realised over 200 miles away at Hillsborough, with Harris – who joined the club in the summer of 2019 – set for his milestone 50th Owls appearance today.

To put that into context, he made just 79 appearances in all competitions in his seven-and-a-half seasons with Cardiff.

Rather than feel sorry for himself in some different times at Cardiff, Harris dug deep and never lost his belief and resolve. His experiences make him a stronger person.

Ahead of the season, Wednesday manager Garry Monk spoke about the importance of his players possessing the right mentality to approach the 2020-21 season – one in which the club must show fight, resolve and character if they are to wipe out the significant 12-point handicap and make the best out of a bad situation.

Harris is one player whom Monk will be able to trust.

Harris said: “I took a lot from Cardiff. But I think a lot of that came from myself as well in my own journey and there were a lot of ups and downs – and more downs than ups.

“That massively built my career and I would not change anything. Now I am very head-strong (driven) and I think that is massive in this sport. It was a massive learning curve for me at Cardiff and great for my character.

“It was a constant case of not playing games and then playing one or two games and coming back out for say another eight. It takes a lot of character to get over those things and come back in and try and perform. It is something that you have got to do and not try and dwell on it.

“That is something I did at Cardiff and have taken with me here.

“He (Warnock) gave me a lot of game-time when he first came until I got injured and gave me an opportunity in the Premier League. He was massive for my career. As much as I did not play as much as I wanted to towards the end, looking back now he has great for my career.”

At 27, Harris is one of a core of senior players who will be expected to help chart Wednesday through treacherous waters this season.

Alongside the likes of Barry Bannan, Tom Lees, Adam Reach and Julian Borner, the winger – named as the Football League’s Apprentice of the Year during his time at first club Wycombe in April, 2011 – is the sort of role model who Wednesday’s younger squad members will aspire to follow.

At this stage of his career, it is a responsibility which sits well on the shoulders of Harris.

He continued: “I have seen a lot in my career and made my debut at 16, so I have been in and around the first team for 11 years now and I can help the younger boys out a lot. It is something I have definitely been trying to do.

“The list of people who helped me is endless. There were a lot at Wycombe and I left for Cardiff and then many came in. It is hard to say how many, but I did get a lot of help and now I try to bring that into my game to help the young ones.

“I must say that no-one is really thinking about the (points) deduction, but taking the season in their stride and going in with the mentality we are going to win and keeping building.

“The togetherness and mentality can only get you so far and it is all about performances and we have produced so far and I hope we can continue that all season.”

As someone who professes to being interested in property and potentially following that career route when his playing days wind down, Harris is building a successful chapter in his footballing story at Hillsborough.

Settled in Yorkshire, the Westminster-born player is keen on constructing something lasting at S6 and he is keen to play his way into a new deal with his current Owls contract expiring next summer.

If he carries on from where he left off last season that is surely bound to take care of itself in a positive direction.

Only Bannan (42) made more Championship starts for the Owls last season than Harris, who started 40 league matches alongside another of Wednesday’s big success stories from 2019-20 in Dominic Iorfa.

These are the sort of figures that are noted by managers, chairmen and supporters alike.

Ahead of reaching his half-century of appearances with the Owls, Harris added: “I didn’t know that. It has gone really quickly and is a surprise to hear.

“It has been an enjoyable time so far and if I could cap it off with a goal and a win (today), that would be ideal.

“The season is very important, but as a professional footballer, every season is virtually important, You cannot ever get ahead of yourself. I love the club and I’d definitely like to stay.”