He's more than just a target man - Sheffield Wednesday players laud the skill and might of in-form Owls hero Atdhe Nuhiu
For a while Atdhe Nuhiu was considered something of a comedy figure at Sheffield Wednesday, by some.
Now, the big striker is having the last laugh.
His gangly, awkward appearance, his untucked shirt that doesn’t look like it fits him properly and the odd attempt at a trick that seemed at times beyond his capabilities as a footballer had some fans sniggering in the stands.
And it appears as though a run of games was all that Nuhiu needed to show exactly what he was capable of.
The Kosovo international has always been regarded as ‘a handful’. A physical presence to rough up defenders and that’s exactly how he was used under Carlos Carvalhal - ‘a Plan B’ that seldom worked.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that his lack of gametime and sharpness was potentially the reason behind the chances missed in front of goal and the aforementioned tricks and skill not coming off.
However, there’s never been any lack of confidence within the player himself and so, he kept trying, believing himself to be more than a ‘big lump up front’.
And that’s exactly how Nuhiu’s team mates see it.
Four goals in the past two games, including a stunning strike against Preston on Friday backs up their belief in a player who is held in such high regard by his colleagues for what he does on and off the pitch.
“He’s got a lot of quality, Atdhe,” said Barry Bannan.
“I saw it as soon as I came here. I knew him, I played against him for the (Scotland) under 21s years ago, he always stuck in my head.
“When I came here, I knew what he was all about.
“A lot of people look at him because he is big and tall you get branded as a target man, but he’s got more to his game than that.
“He’s got some great to touches, he can take the ball in well and his finishing (against Preston) was brilliant.
“I think he just needed a run of games. Obviously it’s hard with the striker’s we have got, when they are all fit it’s hard to get a run of games because everyone is champing at the bit and it is going to chop and change.
“I think you’ve seen with him getting a run of games his confidence is high.
“He’s scoring a lot of goals and under the new manager he’s flying.”
Nuhiu’s contract runs out at the end of this season but given this form under Luhukay while Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher have been out injured, it would be surprising if a new deal wasn’t offered to the striker.
“When you get a chance you have to take it and he’s taken it with both hands,” added Bannan.
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy either, he’s brilliant around the place, I think he’s the longest serving players.
“Everybody loves him, fans love him. I’m over the moon for him, he works hard, even when he’s out.
“He’s taken his chance, he’s been asked to play every game and he’s been brilliant since the new manager came in.”
Adam Reach is of a similar opinion.
“That’s what a striker with confidence can do,” he said.
“Atdhe has had to bide his time a little bit.
“ We have had a lot of strikers, Hooper was scoring goals, Fletcher was playing really well, Jordan as well. He’s had to bide his time but since the injuries he’s played a lot of games but he’s growing in confidence.
“He’s known for his hold-up play but he’s got quality feet which he has shown.”