‘I can’t thank Owls enough..’ Emotional ex-Sheffield Wednesday man Harlee Dean opens up on summer transfer saga
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The centre-half played only nine times for the Owls last season having joined the club on loan in January but made quite an impression on a number of Wednesday supporters for his committed style of play.
Dean arrived at S6 after a fall-out with then-Blues boss Lee Bowyer and told media he expected to be made available on a free transfer that summer, sparking speculation he could make his stay with the club permanent.
Initial cursory interest never quite grew in momentum and after Bowyer was sacked and replaced by John Eustace his situation at St Andrews was turned on its head.
Eustace brought Dean back into the fold in pre-season and over the weekend he completed a once unlikely comeback by playing his first game for the club in 321 days.
Speaking for the first time since his turbulent summer, the 31-year-old spoke in glowing terms about Wednesday, who he credits with saving his mental health after his Bowyer fall-out.
“I didn’t realise how much I needed it until it came about to be honest,” he told the Birmingham Mail. “Darren Moore was brilliant, his coaching staff was brilliant, the club was brilliant and made me fall back in love with football again.
“It gave me the fire back in my belly which I hadn’t realised had left. I can’t thank them enough. What it did for, I don’t want to go into this too much, mental health and stuff like that, really helped me at a bad time.”
Dean’s Birmingham return was put on hold when in pre-season he aggravated a calf issue suffered in Wednesday colours.
Asked about the injury, he revealed he had played only half-fit in last season’s two-legged play-off semi-final defeat to Sunderland.
“It was a killer,” he admitted. “The fact it was only a small one, then it was a re-injury in rehab as well. Tough to take.
“The thing was I rushed it in the play-offs for Sheffield Wednesday because I knew they wanted me to play and I am not going to not play in those games. In hindsight should I have done it? No. Would I do it again? Yeah.”