Exclusive: Why leaving Sheffield Wednesday was the hardest decision of Jack Hunt's career

Jack Hunt left Sheffield Wednesday last week
Jack Hunt left Sheffield Wednesday last week
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Some transfers happen very fast...just ask Jack Hunt.

He spent the early part of last week training with the rest of the Owls’ first-team squad on their second pre-season camp.

Hunt played over 100 matches for Wednesday

Hunt played over 100 matches for Wednesday

But things changed Wednesday evening.

Hunt was well aware Bristol City wanted to sign him. They had been tracking him for a few weeks and had three offers rejected.

The Robins fourth bid, thought to be in the region of £1.6m, finally met Wednesday’s valuation of a player entering the final year of his contract.

Hunt was granted permission to go and speak to Bristol. He travelled south and checked into a hotel still wearing his Owls kit.

Hunt enjoyed his time at Wednesday

Hunt enjoyed his time at Wednesday

“I left Manchester with no clothes at all,” he said. “I had nothing with me whatsoever.”

A little over 24 hours later, Hunt was unveiled as a Bristol City player.

He conceded: “It was a mental couple of days.

“Even though I was going into the last year of my Wednesday contract, I still didn’t think that I was definitely going to leave. I don’t suppose you ever do but obviously it went very quick.”

Hunt has penned a three-year contract with Bristol City

Hunt has penned a three-year contract with Bristol City

The switch represents a fresh start and new adventure for the attacking right-back.

He has spent most of his career plying his trade in the north of England, representing the likes of Huddersfield Town, Barnsley (loan), Nottingham Forest (loan), Rotherham United (loan) and Wednesday.

Hunt, a Yorkshire lad through and through, also had to consider what was best for him and his family. He has two young children so upping sticks and moving them to a different part of the country was not something he could take lightly.

“It was a really big, big decision for me,” said Hunt. “Probably the toughest I’ve had to make in my career with my family circumstances as well.

Hunt joined Bristol City on Friday in a 1.6m deal.

Hunt joined Bristol City on Friday in a 1.6m deal.

“When I came to Sheffield, I could really see myself staying at the club for a long time. I was there three years but I thought it was going to be five, six or maybe seven years. But these things happen so quickly.

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“Even though people will probably look at it and think I had a year left on my Wednesday contract and I could go to Bristol and get a three-year contract, my eldest child starts school in September, I’ve got another one-year-old and only got married 10 days or so ago.

“I have lived in Leeds and could have easily just stayed locally and given it one more year at Wednesday and walked away for free.

“But after a conversation with the Bristol manager [Lee Johnson], the chief executive and seeing the city, I just thought it was somewhere I could really enjoy my football and set up my family.”

Moving to Bristol provides Hunt and his family with long-term security.

The 27-year-old, who has penned a three-year contract, said: “Bristol are such a refreshing club. They do everything absolutely perfectly. Everyone works as a team behind the scenes.

“The manager really showed his interest in me and it has real good feel around the place. It felt right for me.”

Nobody needs to remind Hunt of how things unfolded the last time he moved south. He failed to make a single appearance at Crystal Palace.

“Obviously, the last time I moved away from home was Palace and that couldn’t have gone any worse,” said Hunt. “I would be lying if that wasn’t going through my mind as well.

“You still have them bad memories as much as you want to try and forget about them.

“Bu now I’m at a completely different stage of my life and I can’t wait to get started.”

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After arriving from Palace, Hunt established himself as a key figure in the Wednesday side who qualified for consecutive play-offs. He made 108 Wednesday appearances and the ups far outweighed the downs.

He said: “It was drilled into me when I joined the club it was going to be a two to three year project of trying to get into the Premier League.

“The first season was fantastic. An absolute joy. It just got better and better.

“We had a slow start when everyone was building up relationships but we knew the sky was the limit on how far we could go.

“Unfortunately, we fell just short in the Play-Off Final against Hull, which really hurt.

“But if you look back over the whole season, we played some fantastic football.

“The Arsenal game was a massive highlight. I still remember all the fans holding their phones up now in the stadium. We were allowed to look around because it was 3-0 so we took it in a little more! It was a great occasion.

“I was lucky enough to play a lot of games in Carlos Carvalhal’s second season when we finished fourth.

“We were maybe too nitty-gritty but we kept winning games 1-0 and keeping clean sheets for fun so you don’t change what works.

“We lost on a flip of a coin to Huddersfield in the play-off semi-finals on penalties which was another disappointment.

“But we finished sixth and fourth in the Championship so we had showed a lot of progress.”

And last year?

“Unfortunately, we had a lot of injuries,” he said. “We weren’t good. Sometimes you fall into a downward spiral and I think that’s what we did last season.”

Hunt has been inundated with messages of support since his Hillsborough exit.

“I want to thank the fans,” he said. “I’ve had some really nice messages over the last few days.

“I know it was tough for the fans last season but I would like to think in the time I was there that were more highs than lows.

“I would like to think we showed them some good times. I will still be be checking their results every single week.

“I’ve got a really close six to seven friends at Sheffield Wednesday that I will never stop speaking in my life.”

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