ASK just what Sheffield Wednesday means to Jose Semedo and he is likely to become misty-eyed very quickly.
The midfield veteran may hail from Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s birthplace of Setubal, a town which lies south-west of the Portuguese captial of Lisbon. But, for him, the Owls very much represent ‘the Special One.’
Mention Wednesday and Semedo is the happy one, too – likely to break into a warm smile at the genuine sense of pride in representing one of English football’s grand old institutions.
His depth of feeling an emotional attachment is such that Semedo would probably play for the Owls for nothing if he had to.
Having passed his 32nd birthday in January, it remains to be seen if Semedo secures another Hillsborough deal, with his contract expiring in June. He would dearly love to stay.
Whatever transpires, it can be taken as read that Wednesday will always be with him.
To say that he would be choked with emotion if his club made it back to the Premier League in late May would not be overstating it.
Semedo is now a supporter – just as he was during the club’s promotion to the Championship in 2011-12, which meant the world to him.
The tug of the Owls upon his heartstrings was apparent at the club’s pre-match press conference yesterday.
Semedo told The Yorkshire Post: “I remember playing for Charlton at Hillsborough (in 2011) when we were winning 2-0. In the second half, I saw a turning point from the fans, not from the players (Wednesday drew 2-2). From then on, I wanted to play for this club.
At this moment in time, everyone has a role. When we finish the games, we are all tired because we mentally want to win the games so muchSheffield wednesday’s Jose Semedo.
“I remember in the next summer that Barnsley and Doncaster were in the Championship and then Sheffield Wednesday came in and I said: ‘No, no, no; this is the club I want’ and I signed for Wednesday. It was so clear in my mind.
“These fans are amazing and deserve promotion. Since I have been here, I have never seen anything like this support, home or away. The togetherness has been amazing.
“Going up would be amazing because I wouldn’t have expected two promotions after 2011. But the first step is the play-offs and after that, the dream is getting closer.
“It is in our hands and we have turned things around in great style and we are fully motivated and confident we can make the play-offs.”
For the last two seasons, Semedo has been widely used as a bit-part player by Carlos Carvalhal, but his omnipresence still pervades Hillsborough and the training ground at Middlewood.
Semedo is the one likely to lift a few sagging dressing-room spirits when they are down.
He is the one to remind people of just what it means to wear the blue and white shirt, too; the one who is ready for the call when it arrives on the pitch, whether that be from the start, a half-hour here and there or a short cameo.
You may be able to count the number of starts that Semedo has made in the past season-and-a-half on the fingers of one hand, but if someone is required to perform the bits and pieces role to shore up a game, then he will never be far away from Carvalhal’s thoughts.
Amid the tense end-of-season environment and most definitely in play-off football, having a player or two with those attributes to help see a side over the line should not be under-estimated and Semedo is ready step up when called upon. He is unlikely to let anybody down.
The midfield grafter certainly has not done that in three bench appearances during Wednesday’s perfectly-timed recent sequence of four straight wins, when his merit has been displayed.
He followed up a final half-hour appearance in the derby win at Rotherham with further substitute contributions in replacing Ross Wallace with just over 15 minutes to go in the victories over QPR and Newcastle.
Do not rule out a few more cameos, too, especially if Wednesday continue their impressive recent statistics.
Semedo said: “At this moment in time, everyone has a role. When we finish the games, we are all tired because we mentally want to win the games so much and teams make it so difficult for us and we have to dig in all together with the fans.
“Everybody has a big part to play. Even players who have not played for half of the season can come in at this time and help the team. This is the spirit of the group as we are all one.”
On his recent contributions from the bench, he added: “I am so happy as the hard work has been paying off. I am so happy to help the team when the manager requires me and, luckily, things are going my way, too.”
While the motivation for Wednesday to find redemption after their shattering Wembley finale against Yorkshire rivals Hull City in the play-off final last May is not hard to find, the emotion is being harnessed, according to Semedo.
He said: “If we get in the play-offs again and I am sure we will, I think we will see it with different eyes. We have to put the cherry on top of the cake.
“Maybe last year, all the things on the outside distracted us a bit. But this year, we are much more ready for that.”
Today’s ninth-placed visitors Derby, whose hopes of a Championship play-off place are over, will hope to have David Nugent back from injury.
The striker suffered a groin strain at Brentford on Good Friday and also missed Monday’s game with fourth-placed Huddersfield Town, when a late goal from Jacob Butterfield earned a 1-1 draw.