Keiren Westwood on Sheffield Wednesday part two: Liverpool interest, Fernando Forestieri 'disappointment', Sheffield United and Steve Bruce
The refusal of Fernando Forestieri to play at Norwich City in back in August 2016 was disappointing but was not a turning point for Carlos Carvalhal’s Sheffield Wednesday, according to Keiren Westwood.
In a 75-minute interview with The Star recorded last week, the former Owls keeper spoke about a whole range of topics from throughout his seven-year Wednesday career.
And in this, the second part of a serialised transcript of the interview, Westwood opens up on reported interest from the Premier League – including from Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool in 2015 – as well as giving a dressing room insight into the Forestieri debacle, his two Sheffield derby appearances and the short but eventful Wednesday reign of Steve Bruce.
Part One of our three-part interview – including Keiren’s memories of his early days at Wednesday, Dejphon Chansiri and Wembley woe – is available to read HERE.
You had some interest from the Premier League. How close did you come to leaving?
It wasn’t just me. Players get bids and there was a lot of interest. Ultimately that’s because as a team you’ve done well, which is a good thing.
Did I ever want to leave at that point? No. Would I have gone if a bid had been accepted? Probably not. Looking back I was really enjoying myself, had a great relationship with the fans and it wasn’t about money for me. It was more about leaving some sort of legacy or having a career.
I was always told from a young age not to chase money. I always wanted to play games.
Tell me about Fernando Forestieri and his refusal to play at Norwich..
He was unbelievable. He could turn it on whenever he wanted and that’s such a special talent, his shorts really low and all that.
He scored some outrageous goals and when he was at it there was nobody better in the Championship. He was class.
I’d be lying if I said anything else; I was disappointed. We’d done so much together as a team.
But you have to understand people’s decisions. He’s a grown man, he can make his own choices. My disappointment or anyone else’s don’t matter. He made his choices and he has to live by that decision.
Ultimately it was disappointing but you have to respect people that make decisions. You can sit on the fence and not do anything. I’ve not got a bad word to say about Fernando but I was disappointed and I would have said that to him at the time.
He came back and thankfully he still turned it on.
Was that as much of a turning point for that side as it appeared?
No. It’s football. A fan’s perspective, and I’m not dismissing anybody’s opinion, is different. Inside a dressing room is a lot different to on the street.
You are upset, you are disappointed but you have to put that to one side, get on with it and be professional. 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.
What do you remember of those Sheffield derbies?
The first one [a 4-2 defeat at Hillsborough] I didn't enjoy and should never have played. To be honest it's a huge regret. I had a broken rib and should never have played.
I wasn't right, but I'm old-school. If a manager asks you to play, he's not asking you, he's telling you. What are you going to do, say no? In one of the biggest games in the world?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I should never have played and I take responsibility for that. I'd never blame a manager. He asked me to play and I did. It's a regret but I'm of that mentality that if I'm 70% fit I'll have a bash and do what I can for you, the team and the club.
The second one was 0-0 and I needed that. Steve Bruce was manager and it was a rainy night and I was desperate for that game, I hadn't played in a derby since the first one and I was chomping at the bit.
I could see the game coming round and it was a case of 'this game is mine'. I kept a clean sheet and played well. I was focused and proper 'at it'.
What did you think to Steve Bruce’s time at Wednesday – and his departure?
He signed me for Sunderland as well and so well I heard he was coming in I was very excited. It was a short stint but for what he did at the club, there were foundations there not just on the pitch, but around the place. He tried to implement things for beyond that season.
He's a manager, not a head coach type. He was a proper manager and when he walked in he had an aura about him. It wasn't a long enough stint for me. If he'd stayed in charge, you never know. I'd have liked him to stay but ultimately he went to a club he loved.
If you ask Wednesday fans if they were a manager of whoever and Wednesday knocked on the door and asked them to be manager, they're running out the door! You can't turn that opportunity down.
He probably didn't want to do it, he knew how much the fans loved him and that we had a chance. It's probably the only club that could have nicked him away. I think he's great.