The inside story of Alessio Da Cruz's 'dream move' to Sheffield Wednesday
It’s fair to assume that when Alessio Da Cruz’s name first whistled through the Sheffield Wednesday rumour mill towards the end of the January transfer window, hits on his Wikipedia page had never seen such numbers.
The fiery Dutchman, released from an ill-fated loan move to Italian second tier outfit Ascoli just a few days before signing for the Owls, was a complete to unknown even the most football-obsessive Wednesdayites.
But not to Garry Monk. The Owls boss admitted Da Cruz – who started out in the youth ranks at Ajax before a string of short-term spells at smaller clubs in Holland and Italy – was a name he had been aware of for some time.
“Alessio is a player I know well through contacts,” he said after his unveiling.
"He fits the profile that we need. He is young, athletic, quick and we don't have that option in the squad. He comes with a hunger and a desire.
"Those are the type of players you need when you are recruiting.”
Da Cruz said whispers of Wednesday interest arrived several months ago. But after his relationship with Ascoli turned sour and the opportunity arrived to develop that interest into a formal approach, he says he jumped at the chance to secure a ‘dream move’.
Speaking after his cameo debut in the 0-0 draw with Millwall, he told The Star: “I did good in Ascoli and I was happy to be there, but when this opportunity came I knew for 100 per cent that I wanted to move.
“Because it's England, because it's a big club, Sheffield Wednesday is a very big club, so I wanted to go directly here.
“I didn't know too much to be honest [about Wednesday], I knew that they played a few Dutch guys, but I knew that it is a really big club with a really big fan base.”
An Easyjet flight to Manchester followed and within days Da Cruz was enjoying his first taste of the Hillsborough atmosphere. In just 23 minutes, replacing Jacob Murphy on the Wednesday wing, the former Holland youth international showed a glimpse of his quick feet and eye for a pass.
Da Cruz reportedly piqued the interest of Arsenal scouts some years ago and the youngster confirmed that interest has been shown by English clubs in the past. Brentford are understood to be one club that Wednesday beat to his signature this time out.
And the confident 23-year-old admits it may take time to settle into the rough-and-tumble nature of Championship football, he was delighted to make his debut after a whirlwind first few days in South Yorkshire.
“It was a lot different,” he said. “Italian football is not the same as English football. I'm really excited about the football here.
“It's been crazy. I was waiting for the transfer, just trained two days and then was directly in the squad, so I was already happy. And then with my minutes I was super happy.
“Everybody wants to play in England. It's a dream come true.”