Lees and Westwood both signed for the Owls in July 2014, with Stuart Gray picking them up from Leeds United and Sunderland respectively for next to nothing. It’d be interesting to know how many back then saw them as players that could genuinely play a vital role in reaching the brink of the Premier League.
Since then, the duo have gone on to play almost 500 games in Wednesday colours, giving fans some incredible memories over the years and were both just one game away from writing their name into Owls folklore in 2016 when Hull City pipped them to the post at Wembley.
You have to say that they’ve been tremendous value for money.
With Lees, he’s a player that wore his heart on his sleeve, and never gave anything less than 100% at any point in his Owls career. A Yorkshire lad who was very much of the old-fashioned centre back variety, the defender played his part in setting a new clean sheet record for the club in 2016.
Often he went under-appreciated, and it was possibly only when he went through a blip following the departure of Glenn Loovens that many appreciated how good he had been.
Lees very rarely stood out, but on so many occasions he was just a solid Mr. Dependable at the heart of the Owls defence, and it said a lot about him that he managed to come back so strongly after losing the captain’s armband – he said he wouldn’t let that knock define him.
Sadly his Wednesday career comes to an end with an injury and relegation, but the 31-year-old should be thanked for his years of service and what he’s given to the club.
And with Westwood? It’s hard to argue against the fact that, at his peak, he’s been the best Wednesday goalkeeper of the modern era.
Twice – in the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons – the shot-stopper was crowned as the club’s Player of the Season, and some of the stops that Wednesdayites have seen from him over the years have been almost superhuman.
His thumbs up, his towel-on-the-head moments before games, the fist pumps to the crowd. ‘Westy’ has left fans gobsmacked on many occasions over the years, and there’s been too many ‘how has he saved that?!’ moments to mention.
There have been tough spells, of course. Times when he’s not played, and injury meant that he wasn’t able to hit the 200-game milestone this season, but you’ve got to remember the good times.
With both Lees and Westwood – like with Atdhe Nuhiu and Kieran Lee last year – it’s a genuine shame that there will be no send-off, no final goodbye, for the supporters that have chanted their name over the years.
COVID-19 has robbed them – and the fans – of that opportunity, but the memories of what they brought to the table over the last seven years won’t be forgotten.
Thanks for the memories.