REDA Johnson says he owes a debt to former Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson for converting him into a left back.
The 25-year-old Benin international had only played in the position once - with limited success - before Megson put him there for the away match at Yeovil Town last season.
It’s unlikely the Wednesday fans present that September day at Huish Park for the 3-2 victory would have realised how Johnson would blossom.
And while Johnson is hardly the archetypal nippy left back, it could be said that he is re-defining the role with his power and ability to score vital goals.
He said: “Most of the time people ask me if I’m a centre-half but I’m a defender who is playing left back.
“When Gary Megson put me left back one year ago I was think ‘what’s he doing?’ but now I’m pleased with it so I tell him thank you if he reads the newspaper! I have the possibility now to play left back or if the manager needs me to play centre back, so it is good for me.
“It was my second game at left back, I’d played once in France and at half time the manager changed me back to centre back.
“I didn’t think it would be my position because I wasn’t playing (in the team).
“When the manager put me there I was just thinking I need the games.
“After he started to put me there most of the time I started to enjoy the game.
“When something is new it is never easy but when you try to understand what you need to do and what not to do it gets better.
“I started slowly against Yeovil, nothing against them they’re a good club, but now I’m playing against the likes of Cardiff.”
Johnson has had a frustrating season with a persistent foot injury. A vitamin deficiency led to a weakness in his bone that caused a stress fracture. However, with treatment that includes exposure to the sun and vitamin supplements Johnson has declared that he’s fit whenever Dave Jones wants him to play.
He said: “It’s a big frustration for me, it’s my worst season in football.
“But I’m thinking about the future now and about the club rather than me.
“If the manager plays me, I’ll play.”
And tomorrow’s game is the perfect occasion for the popular Johnson.
He said: “It’s a derby so you want to win that. We have to beat them. We’re at home so we have no excuse, we’ll have our fans with us.
“They’ve been on a good run but so have we. We’ve beaten some good teams like Leicester, so we have confidence in the dressing room. We’re afraid of no one. It’s in our hands.
“It’ll be a massive game and we’re ready for that.”