309 and out? The signs that suggest Phil Jagielka has played his last game for Sheffield United
Although Sheffield United stopped short of confirming that last weekend’s game against Burnley was to be Phil Jagielka’s swansong in a Blades shirt, all the signs certainly pointed that way.
The introduction off the bench with time running out, although then-interim boss Paul Heckingbottom insisted the decision was tactical. If it was, John Egan’s decision to hand over the captain’s armband to Jagielka was surely sentimental.
The former England international was then presented with a signed shirt after the game, with ‘Jags 309’ printed on the back – the number of appearances he has made for the Blades since turning professional with them all those years ago.
His Bramall Lane teammates were queuing up after the Burnley win to pay tribute, and the biggest clue of all probably came via Jagielka’s own Instagram account when he posted a photo of him replacing Ben Osborn from the bench. “Final cameo,” the caption read.
Chris Basham echoed a popular sentiment when he described Jagielka as a “legend”. “Great to learn from you and sit next to you taking money,” he added. “Will be missed! 309.”
Fellow defender Kean Bryan posted: “From growing up watching you, to playing with you! Legend,” while Jack Robinson said: “All the best to the boys who are leaving the club this year, especially [Jags]. What a fella and a great way to end his time at the club by coming on and seeing out the win.”
United could confirm their released and retained list shortly, with guidelines issued by the Football Association stipulating that anyone set to become a free agent must receive notice within seven days of their team’s final match of a season about plans to renew their agreements.
Blades skipper Billy Sharp posted a photo of him and Jagielka embarking on a post-match lap of appreciation to thank the few thousand fans who were allowed into Bramall Lane for the Burnley clash.
“As a kid trying to make it as a professional, I looked up to you,” Sharp said.
“You gave me special memories as a fan, but to be a teammate and friend is special. Thank you, Jags.”