Alex Miller: If it was ever in any doubt, this week proves Barry Bannan is a Sheffield Wednesday legend

It’s sad that the meaning of the word ‘legend’ has been reduced from the feat of pulling a sword from a stone to a man who unexpectedly returns from the bar with crisps.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 6:00 pm

I can’t take credit for that one. One-liner king comedian Gary Delaney – I think – takes the writing credit there. But it’s true, isn’t it? If you’re of a certain age you probably use the term several times a week to congratulate the completion of all manner of menial tasks.

But what truly constitutes a legend these days, particularly in sport? When does one go from, say, icon to legend? And when someone still playing or managing lose the prefix from ‘modern legend’?

Megson, Hirst, Waddle, Wilson, Fantham and others; Barry Bannan is surely a man approaching the ultimate tag at Sheffield Wednesday.

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Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan is an Owls legend, says Alex Miller.

The little Scot is surely the greatest player of the club’s post-Premier League era and has stuck through the club in good times and bad.

And it is that that sets him apart. To earn the tag of ‘legend’, it’s not only about what you do on the pitch, it’s not only about what you do off the pitch. It’s the combination of both, a tacit feeling between player and supporter.

His assertion while speaking exclusively to The Star this week that he is staying at the club this season is testament to what the club means to him, the reaction to that news shows what he means to it.

His reassurance came when speaking to Joe and I at The Star Football Awards, a do that gathered the great and good of Steel City soccer in a glorified excuse to have a few beers.

Across various tables of those working in the game and of fans, conversation flickered from time to time to the man sat almost at the very centre of the room; Bannan.

Respected, well-connected guests currently working in senior positions at Championship clubs, I’m told, were convinced that Bannan would leave Wednesday before the window was out. Not 15 minutes had passed since Bannan had told us the truth.

It shows that whispers in football circles, even those high up, cannot always be taken as gospel – but also that it was a real and vivid possibility.

The fact is that Bannan could have left. Had he pushed a little, there’s a chance he could have secured himself a move to the Premier League.

Anyone who watched his interview with BBC Scotland a few weeks back could have fairly assumed the journey between player and club was over, his solemn admission that the club “Wasn’t a great place to be” sounding more and more like a ‘come and get me plea’ with every panicked watch.

Don’t underestimate the power of good that footage may just have had on the upper echelons of the club, who steered firmly by Darren Moore have dragged a fanbase from the doldrums to a cloud of optimism. Would all of the club’s new signings have signed had Bannan left? It’s very doubtful.

The fact is, it’s not just what you do on the pitch that earns you the tag of ‘legend’. Under these circumstances, sticking with Sheffield Wednesday – HIS Sheffield Wednesday – has kicked the prefix aside.

Arise Barry Bannan; Sheffield Wednesday legend.