Sheffield Wednesday: Keiren Westwood followed the Rhodes to Hillsborough

Keiren Westwood has been the Owls' top performer this season
Keiren Westwood has been the Owls' top performer this season

When it came to luring Keiren Westwood to Hillsborough, Wednesday had an ace in the hole.

That man was goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes who worked with the Republic of Ireland international when he was just a teenager in Manchester City’s youth set up.

Westwood admits Rhodes’ presence in the Owls’ camp was one of the major factors in him choosing Wednesday following his release by Sunderland last summer.

“Andy Rhodes is one of the main reasons why I came to this club,” Westwood told the Star.

“I’ve known him since I was 12 or 13 so he’s a bit of a good role model for me.

“He brought me up from the youth team at Man City.

“He’s always been someone I can ring if I had a bad game or needed a bit of advice, whether I was at the same club as him or not.

“Andy tried for a few years to get me here. I nearly came on loan when I was at Sunderland but it didn’t work out for a number of reasons.

“He looks after me tremendously well.

“We are similar – we’re both winners and do everything to win. We’re real competitors.”

Westwood is also full of praise for Owls head coach Stuart Gray, particularly given the financial constraints he has worked within since taking the reins at Hillsborough.

And he hopes new owner Dejphon Chansiri will back Gray in the transfer market to build on the success of this term.

Westwood said: “He has done a great job and deserves a lot of plaudits as well because he has been working on a shoe-string budget and possibly not always been able to sign permanent players.

“You look at Connor Wickham last year. He saved the club from relegation last season and we have progressed this year.

“Hopefully now, we can get a few players through the door and kick on.”

Westwood was named Wednesday Player of the Year at the Star Football Awards on Monday night.

On presenting the award Gray said: “I knew what I was bringing to the club in Keiren. Long may that continue at Sheffield Wednesday.”