How should the enigmatic genius of Fernando Forestieri be remembered at Sheffield Wednesday?

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Not many football players could do the sort of thing Fernando Forestieri did in August 2016 and still be held in the sort of regard he still holds at Sheffield Wednesday.

Off the field a puzzle of which little was truly solved in his five-year stint in South Yorkshire, the little Argentina-born forward was for a little while a genius on it, without doubt one of the most talented players to have pulled on a Wednesday shirt.

He too owes a great deal to the Owls of course – and not just in a financial sense. At the outset of that five-year spell he played the best football of his career, his tally of 15 league goals in the 2015/16 season and 12 the season after far outstrip his next-best of seven with Watford in 2013/14.

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Without that two-year purple patch, English football would no doubt view him very differently indeed.

Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri.Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri.
Former Sheffield Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri.

It’s five years to the day that looking back is an important moment in the relationship between Forestieri and Wednesday fans; his return from injury at St James Park inspiring a joyously-remembered 1-0 win over Champions apparent Newcastle United.

For some fans, Forestieri remains a hero unmatched; shorts low, shoulders slumped, jinking and jostling his way through defenders and sprinkling magic not seen at Hillsborough since the departures of Paolo Di Canio and Benito Carbone nearly 20 years earlier.

All rosy in that period, was it? Not by a long chalk. On August 13 2016, on the first day of a season in which Sheffield Wednesday were expected to challenge for the title, news filtered into the press box at Carrow Road that Forestieri had refused to board the team bus.

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Derby County and Newcastle United had registered their interest and had had bids rejected for his services. Forestieri was attempting to engineer a move.

It was nothing truly extraordinary in the chaos of modern football, but it was a slap in the face for supporters.

The lingering notion that it was some sort of breaking point for that side doesn’t quite hold water. Despite the fact that Wednesday qualified for the playoffs and Forestieri scored 12 times, a handful of players of that time have refuted a major bust-up within the walls of S6.

Keiren Westwood is the latest of those, told The Star it was an episode largely shrugged off.

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“You are upset, you are disappointed but you have to put that to one side, get on with it and be professional,” he said. “It’s football and these things happen.

“It’s not nice to say but it happens all the time, players aren’t happy, want to go, aren’t able to go. But you have to get on with it. It’s that simple. If you complicate it that’s when it gets messy and people fall out.

“You don't need grey areas; are you here? Good. Let’s go.”

The fact that Forestieri’s name is still sung from time to time by Wednesday fans is not just a nostalgic nod to a happier time, but a measure of just how good he was in the best Wednesday side in a generation.

How he should be remembered by Wednesday fans? It’s a matter of opinion.