"My favourite Sheffield Wednesday player" - How Benito Carbone sparked a lifelong obsession.. and inspired a career
In part one of our series of articles welcoming Sheffield Wednesday supporters to write a tribute to their favourite Owls player of all-time, South Africa-based football writer Joe Crann waxes lyrical on the man that sparked a lifelong obsession with football… Benito Carbone.
“So people talk about a critical phase in your life, right? Somebody or someone who shapes what you become and the path that you take… Well I think that’s true for football.
You know, most of us get given a team when we’re younger. Whether it’s your mum, dad, grandparents, you get assigned this football club where your only affiliation is that of blood – basically because, ‘I told you so’.
After that, it’s up to the football club – or more likely the club’s players – to hook you. There was one man who did that for me, and he was a little Italian with blue and white boots and long hair. After Benito Carbone joined Sheffield Wednesday in 1996, there was no going back.
I was six when Benny joined, and I don’t remember much about it to be honest, just the pizza picture with Paolo di Canio and the fact that he had quite a cool name. But then I started going to games, and I fell in love.
Obviously our kit is famously blue and white, but for me, when I imagine Carbone in a Wednesday kit it’s bright orange. It’s luminous, and he’s doing an overhead kick at St. James Park away at Newcastle United.
I imagine it that way because I was there with my old man. It was my first proper away day as a Wednesdayite (I’d done Elland Road v Leeds United, but that was Yorkshire, so I didn’t really count), and we’d made the trip up to M1 to see the Owls in action.
We lost that game, 2-1, thanks to a brace from Faustino Asprilla, but I left Newcastle thinking about the next time I’d get to see Carbone play again. I was nearly eight.
More than two decades later, I still say that that little Italian maestro is my favourite Wednesday player of all time. He’s the reason that the number eight is my lucky number, and he’s the way that this football club hooked me. Good and proper.”