Alan Biggs at Large: Milan Mandaric’s final goodbye and what Dejphon Chansiri will bring to the Sheffield Wednesday party

Dejphon Chansiri with out-going owner Milan Mandaric
Dejphon Chansiri with out-going owner Milan Mandaric
  • New owner ‘very ambitious’ says Mandaric
  • Chansiri will spend money ‘when needed’
  • ‘My legacy worth more to me than money’ adds out-going Chairman
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Milan Mandaric will be remembered less for the money he pumped into Sheffield Wednesday than the heart he put back into the club.

It’s his proudest legacy ... getting the lifeblood circulating again rather than the emergency infusion.

By Pete McKee

By Pete McKee

It’s doubtful whether any successor, however wealthy and successful, could hope to command more affection. And Dejphon Chansiri would admit that, unlike Mandaric, he is not (yet) a football nut.

But one trait Milan insists they share is being “bad losers.”

You could ask any of Mandaric’s managers about that! And about how he wears his heart on his sleeve.

From first impressions, Chansiri is hard to read. Inscrutable is the word that comes to mind. So what is the Thai tycoon really like?

“He’s a very ambitious guy, he doesn’t want to lose,” says Mandaric, sitting alongside this column for the final time.

“He just sees here a big club that needs to go to the Premier League. He will spend the money to do it. He would hate to lose it without meaning.

“I believe he has the capability and the desire. He’s honest, has a great family and a good reputation.

“He will spend the money when it’s needed.

“And when he commits to something. . . well, he’s very committed.

“He’s going to go for it and deliver.

“And he’s going to be a bad loser, which is good.”

As you are then, Milan? “You can say that again!”

But, for all the fervour of Chansiri’s young mascot son, he’s not a natural lover of the game.

“No, but he’s getting there,” says Mandaric. “He’s catching up quickly enough to fall in love with the game and the club.

“To be honest, it’s hard to make mistakes at a club like this because you just go with emotional feelings. Yes, you’ve got to control that somewhat; you can’t be reckless but you can still keep your business head and spend the money as an investment.”

Mandaric admits there will be agreed extras for him if (he says “when”) Wednesday return to the top flight. That’s on top of the £37.5m sale price that included clearing debts.

But you believe him absolutely when he says that, beyond getting more than his money back, “this was not a money mission but a mission for the love of the game and this club.”

I’d describe the Serbian-American as a football thrill-seeker, even at 76.

As he puts it: “If I have more money or less money I can live the same style of life.

“What I’ve experienced here is special and something you can’t buy.

“My legacy is worth a lot more to me than money.”

And Sheffield Wednesday are worth a lot more, in all senses, for your presence, sir.

Farewell Milan – and I’ll believe you have retired when I see the rocking chair.