Nick Matthew column: I hope Jeremy Helan doesn’t live to regret retiring young

Jeremy Helan

Jeremy Helan

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I’m sure Jeremy Helan will have thought long and hard about his decision to retire from football at the age of 24.

The timing of Helan’s call to hang up his boots was a funny one as I was literally chatting with my dad the day before the news broke about how Sheffield Wednesday lacked a bit of pace and power in their team against Bristol City and Birmingham City.

Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher

With Daniel Pudil injured and Urby Emanuelson not ready to play, we didn’t have a lot of cover at left back versus Birmingham so we were thinking where was Helan and what’s going on with him. Although Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal has always said he sees Helan more as a midfielder, he can still play at full-back.

I used to love watching Helan play. He had the world’s biggest step overs! It was like he was going over a hurdle with his step overs when he took on the full-back!

Helan looked, from the outside, like he was enjoying his football. I liked watching him play. It was good fun. He will definitely be missed.

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But you can never second guess anyone and Helan, a devout Muslim, feels now is the right time to focus on his religion. It is his decision but he does seem very young to be calling it a day.

One of my friends Michael Boulding, who used to play for Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Barnsley and Rotherham, retired from professional football at the age of 29. He went into the family property business but realised after a few months he missed playing football so actually came out of retirement. Michael wanted to play on as long as he could, knowing that he could go back into the business side at any stage.

I’ve a couple of squash friends who have done a similar thing where they have left their careers early and gone to University or taken a job elsewhere and then regretted it so I hope Helan has made the right decision.

Nobody knows the ins and outs of what’s gone on. Has something happened to Helan himself or his family that has influenced his decision? Has he just fallen out of love with football? There’s a lot of greed in the game with agents, the Premier League and huge transfer fees involved so maybe Helan has just thought he is better off out of it. If you devote yourself to religion, I guess the financial side is less of an issue.

We don’t know the full story yet but I want to wish Helan all the best for the future.

Sheffield Wednesday: Glenn Loovens and Sam Hutchinson in battle for defensive role

*I know Wednesday are mid-table at the moment but I don’t look at the standings until after 10 to 15 matches. The Championship is a tight league.

If the Owls’ goal is to be in the play-offs again, they just need to be there or thereabouts.

If automatic promotion is Wednesday’s target, they are just a little off the pace from where they need to be.

I think their performances have been quite good this season. Barry Bannan is playing in that playmaker role where he is effective and Steven Fletcher is starting to find his feet up front.

Hopefully things will come good but there are still a few ares which the Owls need to iron out. Some of their build up play is very intricate but we need some more pace and power in the team to complement our silky approach work.

Last year, Wednesday scored lots of goals from outside the box. They got their shots away and I think they need to start doing more of that again.

Fernando Forestieri is not quite at his best after all his off the field issues. Who knows whether that has affected things behind the scenes or not.

One of my mates is a Bristol City fan and he was glad Forestieri was on the bench last week.

While the manager needs to show Forestieri he’s not the star of the show and is one of the squad, I would be inclined to keep him happy. Without giving into player power, you do want to keep your better players.

At the end of the day, no one player is indispensable in a team...unless you are Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

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