David Prutton has expressed his surprise over Jeremy Helan’s decision to call time on his career at the age of 24 to devote his life to religion.
As The Star exclusively revealed over the weekend, Helan, a devout Muslim, plans on quitting football.
It is believed Helan, who played 145 times for Wednesday, made up his mind less than a fortnight go, having spent increasing amounts of time at a mosque in Sheffield.
Sources close to the player say he intends to travel to Saudi Arabia to follow his religion more closely.
Neither Helan, whose contract is due to run out at the end of the season, nor the Championship club have yet to officially comment on the situation.
Ex-Owls midfielder Prutton played alongside the Frenchman three years ago.
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“I was very, very surprised when I heard the news,” Prutton told The Star. “When you talk about players retiring, there are not many who fall into this category.
“Guys at that age usually retire due to injury or for some other reason.
“It is a massive, bold call (to retire) for a young man but it is obviously something Jeremy feels very strongly about.”
Helan spent two months on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers last term and has only appeared once for Carlos Carvalhal’s men this time around when they were dumped out of the EFL Cup at the first hurdle by Cambridge United last month.
Prutton, well-respected as a Sky Sports pundit, said: “Jeremy is a very quiet, serious guy who goes into the dressing room with a smile on his face and has a laugh with everyone.
“But religion has always been a big part of his daily routine. It is important to him and you could sense that very much. Jeremy is a devout Muslim and had no qualms over going off an praying at relevant times and everything that comes with his faith. He wasn’t bothered about how it looked to his teammates or colleagues etc.
“Religion has always been a big part of his life and this is clearly a path which has opened up to Jeremy and one that he feels he has got to take.”
Prutton believes there will be a “certain level of disbelief” at S6 over Helan’s call to hang up his boots but added: “There will be some people who maybe don’t understand it but it is a life choice and is something that should be celebrated. It’s Jeremy’s decision and I hope people respect it.”
Owls coach Lee Bullen has also reflected on Helan’s decision, saying: “It’s a surprise, somebody who’s 24 years old, his career’s all in front of him.
“But again it’s such a personal and emotional subject you’ve got to be careful as to the question you ask somebody when they make that sort of decision.”