How a teenager's beaming grin served as a reminder of the joys of football after a tough fortnight for Sheffield Wednesday
It’s easy to get caught up in the pessimism surrounding football nowadays.
Whether it’s the weekly Monday morning VAR de-brief or the discussion of ticket prices, diving or football finance, the phrase ‘modern football’ has become a by-word for what’s going wrong in the game, the suggestion that everything good and holy in our sport took place before the advent of Sky Sports.
And it’s a pessimism that has engulfed much of the conversation around Sheffield Wednesday in recent months.
Despite a sparkling run of form that catapulted them to third place in the pre-Christmas table, the ongoing battle between the Owls boardroom and the EFL continues to hang over the club. It would have taken a lot less than three defeats on the spin to dampen spirits as they did.
So important it was, then, for the Owls to offer reasons to smile at the weekend. A confident 1-0 win over Premier League Brighton did that and then some, but it was perhaps the beaming grin of one young man that will live longest in the memory.
That of 19-year-old debutant Osaze Urhoghide.
Shove your VAR. The 141-second interview with Urhoghide, released on Saturday evening and watched by over 3.5million times by Tuesday lunchtime, should be all anyone needs to remind them that, at the heart of it, modern football is a provider of simple joys.
You’ve seen it by now. The teenager, uncontaminated by media training, spoke of the joy of making his dent on professional football, of his gratitude to Garry Monk for taking a chance on him and of the challenges faced in his young career.
He’s got a long, long way to go and the coming weeks could determine whether ‘Big O’ ensures his Wednesday career is not consigned to quiz question status.
That Wednesday all but sold out their allocation at the Amex – after three defeats, changes expected, straight after Christmas – told it’s own story. Sheffield Wednesday supporters will follow their club to all four corners of the country no matter what.
But it’s interviews like Urhoghide’s that remind you that at the heart of it, football is about young lads kicking a ball around. Modern football is worth it.