Why Celtic and Aston Villa idol Stiliyan Petrov provides the inspiration for Barry Bannan to help Sheffield Wednesday

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He’s not that old himself, but Barry Bannan has become something of a veteran in amongst a Sheffield Wednesday squad that has become increasingly youthful.

At the age of 28, with three permanent clubs under his belt, five separate loan spells and 27 international caps, the Scot has been around long enough to be able to pass on a fair amount of knowledge.

Barry Bannan celebrates Wednesday victory over Hull City

Barry Bannan celebrates Wednesday victory over Hull City

And that’s been the case this season, with the raft of young Owls talent that has been given the opportunity in the first team, benefitting from the guidance being handed down by Bannan and others in the Wednesday side.

Bannan knows how important it is to help young players through what can be a daunting time, stepping up into brand new arena and the pressure that come with it.

Like every player, they’ve been there before and they know what these fresh-faced kids are going through.

“It’s good to see, there are a lot of good young players here, a lot of played this season and played a big part,” said Bannan ahead of the Owls clash with newly-crowned champions Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow.

Stiliyan Petrov is a huge inspiration to Barry Bannan

Stiliyan Petrov is a huge inspiration to Barry Bannan

“It’s good for us, it keeps us on our toes, as long as they don’t take my position then it’s alright!

“It’s brilliant, I remember when I was a young player coming through at Villa, it’s always good and a good confidence boost coming in for next season.

“It’s always good to pass on (advice). I wouldn’t speak to defensive players, but the one’s who have come in like Connor (Kirby) and the young boy Alex (Hunt) who is coming through as well, the ones like that I would speak to in my position and just pass little things on, anything I can do to help them is brilliant, really.”

Bannan thought back to when he was beginning to make a name for himself at Aston Villa, when a hero arrived there.

Owls Barry Bannan..............Pic Steve Ellis

Owls Barry Bannan..............Pic Steve Ellis

As a Celtic fan, Bannan was understandably delighted when Stiliyan Patrov was brought to Villa Park by former Hoops manager Martin O’Neill.

And the Bulgarian international took it upon himself to help Bannan in the fledgling steps of his career.

“Stiliyan Petrov was a big help, because of the Celtic connection,” he said.

“I was 18, 19 when he signed for Aston Villa and we go on really well.

Owls Barry Bannan.........Pic Steve Ellis

Owls Barry Bannan.........Pic Steve Ellis

“He passed on everything that he could do, he couldn’t have been more helpful to me.

“Certain things like that help you as a kid growing up, seeing players that you look up to, passing on knowledge to you its always great.”

Petrov would go on to provide Bannan further, more poignant inspiration, having successfully fought leukaemia.

“He went through something unbelievable and came out the other end and I still keep in contact with him now regularly,” the Owls midfielder added.

“His wife just interior designed my house so I have been close to him since he came to Villa.

“With his battle with cancer and come out the other end, he was just a great role model to look up to and you wouldn’t know any difference in him from when he had that. He’s just brilliant really.”

Barry Bannan in his Aston Villa days

Barry Bannan in his Aston Villa days

Bannan’s young colleagues in the under 23s will today win the league for the second successive season, should they manage to avoid defeat against Burnley at Hillsborough (1pm kick off).

That focus on youth has been one of the brightest parts of an otherwise disappointing campaign for Sheffield Wednesday and Bannan believes that their success gives the entire club a lift.

“They won it last season, you can see the players coming into the team that the academy is producing good young players,” he said.

“If they get a draw (today) they win the league again and it’s a confidence booster for everyone that you have players underneath you coming into the first team that are going to be good players and it keeps everybody on their toes.

“The manager (Neil Thompson) has been brilliant, I played under Thommo for a few games there, they are hard working boys and it’s good to see they are getting rewarded.”