Frozen out; now at Sunderland; retired to focus on Islam: What happened to Stuart Gray’s last Sheffield Wednesday side?

It’s been five years since Stuart Gray’s 18-month spell as manager of Sheffield Wednesday came to an end after the Owls finished 13th and had to watch Watford celebrate Premier League promotion, but what happened to the players that featured in his last game?

Monday, 15th June 2020, 1:36 pm
Gray’s Owls exit was one of the first major changes following Dejphon Chansiri’s takeover in 2015. He joined Fulham later that year and spent a few seasons there before leaving in 2018. He’s now back with the Whites as Scott Parker’s assistant.

Of the 14 Wednesday men that turned out against Watford in that 1-1 draw five years ago, three of them remain contracted to the club, a few are retired, one called it a day to focus on his religion, and another is back at his former stomping ground as he looks to reignite his career.

Kirkland played second fiddle to Kieren Westwood for the bulk of the 2014/15 season, and turned down a one-year extension before joining Preston North End and then Bury prior to his retirement in 2016. He recently joined non-league side, Colne FC, as their new head goalkeeping coach.

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After making more than 200 appearances for Wednesday, the 1-1 draw with Watford proved to be his final game in blue and white as he became part of the Hillsborough exodus ahead of the 2015/16 season. He went on to play for Rotherham United and Bolton Wanderers before retiring in 2017. He recently offered free accommodation to Manchester's NHS workers at apartments he owns in Salford Quays.
As one of the handful of players remaining at Hillsborough from the Gray era, Lees has now made almost 250 appearances in Wednesday colours and now dons the armband as club captain. In the current squad, only Atdhe Nuhiu and Liam Palmer have made more SWFC appearances than the former Leeds United man.
Vermijl was seen as a bright talent having come through the ranks at Manchester United, but his time at SWFC didn't quite work out and he spent less than 18 months at Hillsborough before joining Preston North End. Now 28, the defender is plying his trade in the Belgian second tier with MVV Maastricht. He's played 18 games this season.
Helan played almost 150 times for the Owls having impressed on loan from Manchester City prior to a permanent switch in 2013. He almost helped them to promotion in 2016 before a loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers later that year. He shocked the football world a few months later when he announced his retirement at aged 24 to 'concentrate on religion'.
Semedo left Wednesday in 2017 after spending the best part of a decade with the Owls, but not before capturing a place in the heart of Wednesdayites everywhere. He's currently playing with Vitória Setúbal at the age of 35 and still intends to keep his promise of bringing to Cristiano Ronaldo to Hillsborough once the Portuguese duo have both retired.
Lee went on to become firm fan favourite at Hillsborough after making more than 200 appearances for the club. He may be one of the few remaining in S6 since Gray's time, but that could end in a few weeks if there is no progress with regards to his contract that expires at the end of this month. He's largely remembered for his goals in the 2015/16 promotion push season.
Melo was one of the first signings of the Chansiri era following his takeover in January 2015, but failed to live up to expectations as he made a total of just six appearances before returning to Portugal in 2017. He's played 22 games in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season for Farense.
The game against Watford proved to Maguire's last for the club as he fell just short of 100 appearances for the Owls. He was a regular for Gray in the 2014/15 campaign but was another player that moved on as Dejphon Chansiri rung the changes in his first full season in charge. He's currently with Sunderland as they look to try and climb out of League One after stints with Rotherham United, Oxford United and Bury.
Lavery joined Wednesday's youth setup in 2012 and spent plenty of time on loan at clubs like Southend United and Portsmouth. A loan in 2015 was cut short as Gray brought him back from a loan with Chesterfield to end the season with the Owls - he scored a few days later. He turned down a new deal at Wednesday in 2016 and instead signed for local rivals, Sheffield United. He didn't have much look in red and white though, and now plays for Walsall where he has scored four goals in League Two this season.
Wednesday were one of many loan stops that Keane made during his time on the books of Manchester United. He played 13 times for the Owls - scoring three goals - before returning to the Red Devils after the game against Watford to end the 2014/15 season. He left United for Hull City on a permanent basis in 2016, but failed to make a real impact there prior to joining Ipswich Town last year after impressing on loan. He's played 23 times for Ipswich this season, scoring three.
Wednesday were one of three teams that Isgrove spent time on loan with during his early years while at Southampton, but he only made eight appearances for the Owls and never got off the mark in terms of goals. He spent time at Barnsley and Portsmouth before joining current club, Swindon Town, last year. He's played 29 games in League Two this season.
Nuhiu scored a dramatic late equaliser at Watford in Gray's game as he made sure they didn't end their promotion-winning season with three points. And he's gone on to become the player at Wednesday with the most appearances in the current squad. He's also the top scorer in the current bunch of players, but faces an uncertain future as his contract draws to a close at the end of this month.
May was signed by Gray in 2014 and had a decent start for the club as he got three early goals in Wednesday colours, however things turned sour as he fell down the pecking order, and he went on to join Preston North End just over a year after moving to the Owls. After a tough spell with PNE, May went home to Scotland to join Aberdeen before rejoining his former club, St. Johnstone, in 2019. He's currently having his best goalscoring season (6 in 24) since scoring seven in 2014/15 for Wednesday.