How Sheffield Wednesday new boy Julian Börner has quickly adjusted to life at Hillsborough

There was a cracking picture circulated across social media of Julian Börner celebrating a goal-line clearance after Wednesday's recent victory over Barnsley.

Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 2:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th August 2019, 5:56 pm

The German centre-back came to the Owls' rescue, booting substitute Mamadou Thiam's low effort away to safety midway through the second half.

It was a crucial moment and could have potentially changed the complexion of an absorbing South Yorkshire derby.

But Börner showed great awareness and his vast experience to help frustrate the Reds as the Owls recorded their first clean sheet of the campaign. It typified his passion and determination to win.

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Sheffield Wednesday centre-half Julian Börner. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Interim Wednesday boss Lee Bullen, a paid-up member of the defenders' union, told The Star: "I sometimes don't think defenders get enough credit when they make a goal saving challenge or a clearance off the line.

"Everyone went around Fletch [Steven Fletcher] after he scored the second goal.

"But Julian's clearance and Cameron Dawson's first half save were also crucial. I think players need to get around goalkeepers and defenders more and celebrate that type of thing because it is so, so crucial.

"When somebody does something important, it is great to see people high fiving each other. I was really happy to get a clean sheet."

Strong in the air and calm on the ball, Börner has adjusted quickly to his new surroundings. The summer recruit has looked solid and assured versus Reading and Barnsley. It is early days but Börner already seems to have formed a good understanding with captain Tom Lees at the heart of their rearguard.

Bullen said: "I think Julian has done great and he just goes about his business with a minimum of fuss.

"He is steady on the ball but he is not like a Rio Ferdinand or a Michael Hector from last year who really enjoyed bringing the ball out.

"Julian is not flashy or anything like that. He is no-nonsense and does his defensive duties well.

"I think he is really enjoying his time here but he has got David Bates breathing down his neck now.

"I also have Dominic Iorfa back from suspension so the battle for places is there.

"Obviously, the two centre-backs have done great in the first two games and it is up to the other lads to take their opportunities when they come along."

Börner, signed on a free transfer from Arminia Bielefeld, is a bubbly, friendly character.

"The lads have really taken to him," said Bullen. "He is always smiling and willing to laugh at himself whenever he makes a mistake in training.

"As with any new language, the first new words you learn are swear words! You can hear him swearing by himself at times when he makes a mistake!

"But Julian has always got a smile on his face and that is so infectious around any sort of environment.

"He's a very infectious character, a little bit like Lucas Joao was. Lucas was always laid-back but he always had a smile on his face.

"Julian doesn't get too down on himself and is quite happy to take the mickey out of himself. He is a lovely character around the changing room."

When asked if he is surprised at how fast Börner has adapted to a new league, country and culture, Bullen said: "I suppose so.

"He came over on his own and there are no other Germans in the group.

"But I actually think having a bit of a pre-season trip to Germany helped him because he was the one the lads turned to when they wanted to know what people were saying at a shop or cafe. He arranged the meal on the last night with Atdhe [Nuhiu] so that helped him as well.

"It is really good that he came over and got a house as soon as he possibly could to get himself settled in so he is not living out of a suitcase."

The 28-year-old is expected to retain his spot in the Wednesday defence when they go to Millwall this weekend. Despite having completed a three-match suspension, Iorfa is likely to have to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

Should Barry Bannan recover from a calf problem, Bullen will have a big decision to make in midfield. It could well be that either Adam Reach or Jacob Murphy makes way for Bannan.