Pick the ‘right’ man: It’s your decision

Len Badger -footballer
Len Badger -footballer
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IT takes no time at all to think of two Wednesday all-time great right backs: Roland Nilsson and Mel Sterland.

A TRIO of local lads and one emigree from Greece.

Ron Staniforth

Ron Staniforth

As the sight of over 6,000 supporters crossing the Pennines to watch Sheffield United tackle their Mancunian namesakes in the FA Youth Cup Final last month proved, nothing captures the imagination of those who follow football quite like one of their own making good.

So it should come as no surprise that any list of Bramall Lane’s greatest post-war right-backs is dominated by home-grown talent.

Len Badger and Cec Coldwell proved impossible to leave out.

Born in Darnall, Badger enjoys a special place in the hearts of all United fans after helping the Steel City club win promotion in 1971.

Kyle Walker- SHEFFIELD UNITED   � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Kyle Walker- SHEFFIELD UNITED � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Still regarded by many as unfortunate not to win full England recognition, he did earn schoolboy and youth caps as well as becoming United’s youngest ever league captain in a league fixture in 1966.

Badger, who still attends every home game, played nearly 550 times for United after making the breakthrough during a pre-season tour of Canada and the USA.

An accomplished defender on the pitch, he ensured there was never a dull moment off it too throughout his time in S2.

Indeed, as an apprentice, Badger once got lost in the pitch-black tunnels beneath the old John Street Stand only to emerge dishevelled, much to the surprise of chairman Dick Wragg and his luncheon partner, John Harris, from a trapdoor leading straight into the boardroom.

Mel Sterland in typical action style for Sheffield Wednesday charging down the wing

Mel Sterland in typical action style for Sheffield Wednesday charging down the wing

Coldwell, another former captain, was older than most when he signed professional terms after impressing for Norton Woodseats.

Coldwell turned down Bradford City before signing for United and the West Yorkshire outfit were forced to watch with envy as, having been appointed skipper by Joe Mercer, he led his colleagues to promotion and an FA Cup semi-final.

Coldwell also served United as first-team coach and acting manager after making over 470 appearances.

According to some, he carried one packet of Woodbines, a wet sponge and half a bottle of scotch in his kit bag to help players overcome injury.

Roland Nilsson-Shefield Wednesday.

Roland Nilsson-Shefield Wednesday.

Kyle Walker, the third name on this roll of honour, is a worthy inclusion despite spending only six months on the books of Kevin Blackwell’s side before completing a move to Spurs in 2009.

He did return on loan before being spirited back to White Hart Lane just hours before a midweek fixture at Watford.

Having since forced his way into the England squad - injury prevented Walker from winning his first international cap against Ghana earlier this year - the youngster owes his rise to prominence to a persistent, stubborn streak which recently earned him a loan move to Aston Villa.

Although he initially slipped under the radar of United’s scouting system, Walker’s big break came when he was recommended by a volunteer from the Football Unites Racism Divides project.

It speaks volumes that his departure, together with that of close friend and contemporary Kyle Naughton, is still regarded by some as a major factor behind their old team’s failure to challenge more strongly for promotion the following season.

Naughton, like Furniss, can count himself unfortunate not to make the last four. But Vassilis Borbokis completes The Star’s selection, even though he made only 55 league appearances for United after completing a £1 million move from AEK Athens in 1997.

Now aged 42 and a member of his old club’s scouting department, he oozed quality as a rampaging wing-back.

Borbokis tasted play-off and FA Cup semi-final action during his spell in United colours before joining Derby in 1999.

Finally, an honourable mention for someone who merits a place but, due to numerical constraints, has failed to make the final cut.

Fred Furniss, who made his United debut during a Liverpool air raid and amassed over 430 appearances for the Blades before becoming a regular fixture on the Sunday League circuit. He could still be spotted thwarting opposition forwards on amateur pitches well into his 50s.

The versatile Carl Bradshaw will be featured later in this series.

To vote for Blades:

To vote for your favourite player simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Blades, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) BLADES (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for all entries is Sunday, June 12 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

It’s one of the most enduring debates among football fans everywhere - what’s your best ever team? We are calling on the followers of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday to tell us who would be in their best ever side, since the Second World War. We are looking for your Sheffield United Dream Team and your Sheffield Wednesday Dream Team. Last week it was the goalkeepers and today it’s the turn of the right-backs . In the following weeks will be inviting you to let us know which players, position by position, you would pick for the remaining places in your team. To jog your memory, we will offer up every week four past stars from each club for each position. But it will be your choice from our four nominees that counts - and the player who gets the most votes will fill that position in the Dream Team. The two greatest teams will be unveiled at the end of the process. Happy voting!

IT takes no time at all to think of two Wednesday all-time great right backs: Roland Nilsson and Mel Sterland.

But which one would you pick in your post-war dream team?

And are the others on our four-man shortlist worthier choices?

Picking between Nilsson and Sterland, if that was the only task, is hard enough.

Nilsson was perhaps the more accomplished defender, but Sterland scored goals.

What they have in common is that both performed heroically for the Owls and achieved huge popularity.

Sterland’s swashbuckling style made him one of the most exciting players of the last 25 years.

His rampaging forward runs made goals for others or for himself: 49 in his 338 eight starts and nine outings as a sub - a remarkable goal total for a full-back, even if some came from penalties.

A member of Jack Charlton’s side and Howard Wilkinson’s promotion-winning team, Sterland also won one England cap and one for England B, and played seven times for the Under-21s and once for the Football League.

Sterland had fallen out with a new manager Peter Eustace, gone on the transfer list, and been sold to Rangers for £800,000 by Eustace’s successor, Ron Atkinson, in early 1989, by the time, months later, a relatively unknown Swedish right-back was given a trial in the reserves.

He hardly gave the ball away all night and looked an accomplished defender - and those were to become the familiar trademarks, even when he was playing at top level, of the man who held the right back spot with distinction in the golden times of the early 90s, under Atkinson and Trevor Francis.

Nilsson scored only three goals for Wednesday, but he could leave that art to others in his 186 appearances.

His fitness was second to none: He played in the FA Cup Final replay against Arsenal in 1993 only 24 hours after having to play for Sweden in a World Cup qualifier against Austria in Stockholm.

In five years as a Wednesday player, the defender earned 31 caps - part of a total of 116.

Another of our right-back contenders was, like Nilsson, already a full international when he joined the Owls.

He was Ron Staniforth, who had played eight times for England and three times for the B team, and made more than 300 first-team appearances after spells with Stockport and Huddersfield.

Known as one of the best full-backs in English football, he helped Huddersfield to rise from the old Second Division to the top three in the top flight.

Born in Manchester, he was 31 when he was signed from the Terriers in 1955 a swap deal involving two players from the Owls and two from Leeds Road.

Staniforth won no more caps but was a Wednesday regular and helped the club to win the Second Division title in 1956.

He made 102 appearances and left for Barrow in 1959, but returned to Hillsborough as a coach in 1970.

The right-back who replaced him in the team had to be considered when we sifted through the top right backs: Peter Johnson was a regular in the side that finished runners-up to the double-winning Spurs team in 1961, and missed few games as Wednesday finished sixth for four consecutive years. He spent eight years at Hillsborough and played 207 matches.

But the fourth contender on the shortlist, along with Sterland, Nilsson and Staniforth, is Wilf Smith, fast and powerful, and best known as a member of the 1966 FA Cup final side.

He came through Wednesday’s youth system and was only 19 when he played at Wembley.

Smith made his debut in 1964 and played 234 league and cup games for the Owls. The club were in the top flight throughout his time with them

He also won six England Under-23 caps and six for the youth side, and played three times for the Football League.

Wednesday were relegated in April, 1970, but four months later Smith returned to the top division as the country’s most expensive full-back, after Coventry signed him for £100,000.

To vote for the Owls:

To vote for your favourite player simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Owls, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) OWLS (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for all entries is Sunday, June 12 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

Sheffield United V Norwich,Pictured Vas Borbokis scorung his sweet free kick goal.

Sheffield United V Norwich,Pictured Vas Borbokis scorung his sweet free kick goal.

Sheffield wednesday's 1966 FA cup final team, which was beaten 3-2 by Everton at Wembley, Back Row -  Left to right Jim McCalliog, Peter Eustace, Ron Springett, Gerry Young, Sam Ellis, Wilf Smith, Front  Graham Pugh, John Fantham, Don megson, (capt) David Ford and John Quinn

Sheffield wednesday's 1966 FA cup final team, which was beaten 3-2 by Everton at Wembley, Back Row - Left to right Jim McCalliog, Peter Eustace, Ron Springett, Gerry Young, Sam Ellis, Wilf Smith, Front Graham Pugh, John Fantham, Don megson, (capt) David Ford and John Quinn