Sheffield Wednesday are one of the oldest football clubs in England and have witnessed a long list of legends excel at Hillsborough. Icons have thrived throughout the Owls’ highs and lows over the years.

The South Yorkshire natives have endured several ups and downs throughout Sheffield Wednesday’s history as a club to create legends. Players like Roland Nilsson and David Hirst cemented a spot in the hearts of Owls supporters. Andrew Wilson also set their club records for both appearances and goals.

Sheffield Wednesday v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship
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Andrew Wilson

Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 560
Goals: 217
Managers: Arthur Dickinson (1900-20)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1900-1920

It is impossible to discuss Sheffield Wednesday legends without starting with the Owls’ record-setting hero, Wilson. The centre-forward from Colmonell, Scotland recorded an astounding 217 goals across his 560 appearances. And even though Wilson retired in 1920, the striker’s records remain unbeaten.

Arthur Dickinson signed Wilson for Sheffield Wednesday during his legendary rein as the Owls’ club secretary. He saw the potential the attacker had in his locker during Wilson’s breakthrough at Clyde. The forward only spent one year with the Bully Wee before he would begin terrorising English sides.

Wilson made tormenting defences look like a game, even if the Scotland national team would often overlook his exploits. The striker only ever played six games for his country between 1907 and 1914. Yet he channelled any disappointment into dazzling with the Owls and kept playing until he was 39.

By the time Wilson hung up his boots for the final time following a hiatus during WWI, he had struck 199 league goals. All of his efforts also came in the top-flight and helped to add the title to Sheffield Wednesday’s trophy history in 1902/03 and 1903/04. He also helped the Owls win the 1907 FA Cup.

Roland Nilsson

Position: Right-back
Appearances: 185
Goals: 2
Managers: Ron Atkinson (1989-91) Trevor Francis (1991-94)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1989-1994

Nilsson left his native Sweden for the first time in 1989 to join Sheffield Wednesday’s squad under Ron Atkinson. His debut season would not bring the results the Owls hoped for as the Hillsborough club endured relegation. But Nilsson stuck around and helped the club secure an immediate return.

Sheffield Wednesday’s supporters quickly took Nilsson into their hearts as the full-back established himself as a real fans’ favourite. The Helsingborg-born dynamo emerged as one of the real catalysts of the Owls’ resurgence. He also helped the club lift the 1991 English Football League Cup (EFL Cup).

Nilsson further helped Sheffield Wednesday reach the finals of the EFL Cup and FA Cup in 1992/93. The Owls also qualified for the 1992/93 edition of the UEFA Cup after finishing third in their maiden campaign back in the top-flight in 1991/92. It also marked the Owls’ return to Europe after 28 years.

For many Sheffield Wednesday supporters, Nilsson remains the greatest foreign player to don their legendary blue-and-white striped shirt. While he also helped Sweden reach the semi-finals of Euro 1992. It proved even more significant with the Blagult hosting that year’s European Championship.

David Hirst

David Hirst
15 Mar 1997: David Hirst of Sheffield Wednesday is pursued by Dennis Irwin of Manchester United during the FA Premier League match at Old Trafford…
Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 358
Goals: 149
Managers: Howard Wilkinson (1986-88), Peter Eustace (1988-89), Ron Atkinson (1989-91), Trevor Francis (1991-95), David Pleat (1995-97)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1986-1997

Hirst established himself as one of the all-time Sheffield Wednesday legends during a storied 11-year spell at Hillsborough. Howard Wilkinson convinced the striker to join the Owls in 1986 after just one term in Barnsley’s first-team. The following years featured 149 goals before he joined Southampton.

England may have regularly overlooked his goals with Hirst only ever featuring three times with the Three Lions. Yet Hillsborough only had to wait a few minutes into his home debut for Hirst to hit his first for Sheffield Wednesday. He came off the bench against Everton to help the Owls to a 2-2 draw.

Sheffield Wednesday would relish the stream of strikes that Hirst converted as he struck home 32 in 1990/91 to secure promotion from the second-tier. It was also his third of four consecutive seasons as their top goalscorer. While Hirst would even end the 1995/96 campaign atop their scoring charts, too.

Injuries would frequently deny Hirst a chance to end even more seasons as Sheffield Wednesday’s top scorer past 1991/92. His return to fitness in 1997 also saw David Pleat accept Southampton’s offer. The Owls would not come to regret the decision, though, as Hirst would only play sparingly for the Saints.

Derek Dooley

Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 63
Goals: 63
Managers: Eric Taylor (1947-53)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1947-1953

Tommy Walker had a hand in Sheffield Wednesday gaining the services of a future Owls legend when the scout spotted Derek Dooley in 1947. The striker had just broken through into the first-team ranks at Lincoln City toward the end of the previous campaign. But Dooley would achieve an insane record.

By the time the forward from the Pitsmoor area of Sheffield called time on his career in 1953, he had scored an astonishing 63 goals in 63 games for Sheffield Wednesday. Eric Taylor made Dooley wait for his chance at Hillsborough. He only truly broke through with the Owls during the 1951/52 campaign.

Taylor would have wondered why he held off on unleashing Dooley before the 51/52 season as he hit 47 goals in only 31 games that term. His efforts took the Owls to the Division Two title that season, as well. Dooley even bagged five in one match with Notts County and four against Hull City and Everton.

An injury curtailed Sheffield Wednesday legend Derek Dooley’s career

Dooley would take to Division One like a duck to water as he struck 16 goals by February. But he then broke his leg at Preston North End and an infection meant doctors would ultimately amputate his leg. The injury brought the striker’s career to an abrupt end at a young age whilst at the top of the sport.

Sheffield Wednesday would later bring the fans’ favourite back home in 1971 when the Owls named Dooley as their manager. His tenure at Hillsborough was not successful, though, and the club sacked him on Christmas Eve in 1973. Dooley would later go on to work at their arch-rivals, Sheffield United.

Dooley would work his way up the ranks at Bramall Lane and he even served as the Blades’ managing director. Sheffield United’s successes on the pitch whilst he stood in their boardroom saw Blades fans take the Sheffield Wednesday legend into their hearts. The city also named a main road after Dooley.

Chris Waddle

Premiership - Arsenal FC v Sheffield Wednesday
Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images
Position: Winger, attacking midfielder
Appearances: 145
Goals: 14
Managers: Trevor Francis (1992-95), David Pleat (1995-96)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1992-1996

Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille had already revelled in the player Chris Waddle was before Trevor Francis brought the England hero home in 1992 to sign with Sheffield Wednesday. But his powers were not regressing and the winger guided the Owls to the FA Cup and EFL Cup finals.

Arsenal would get the better of Sheffield Wednesday in both finals during the 1992/93 campaign. Yet the role Waddle played in the Owls’ efforts saw the Football Writers’ Association pick him as its 1993 Footballer of the Year. Throughout the maestro’s career, it remained the only time he won the award.

It was the perfect response to Graham Taylor axing Waddle from the England squad before he joined Sheffield Wednesday. His skilful ways and exemplary vision would also continue throughout his time at Hillsborough. But one fixture alone saw Waddle cement himself as a Sheffield Wednesday legend.

Owls fans firmly adopted Waddle as one of their own in April 1993 after he scored a long-range free-kick against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final. He broke the deadlock at Wembley inside only the second minute. Alan Cork would equalise for the Blades before Mark Bright’s extra-time winner.

John Sheridan

John Sheridan of Sheffield Wednesday
1991: John Sheridan (left) of Sheffield Wednesday celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the Rumbelows Cup Final against Manchester Unit…
Position: Midfielder
Appearances: 235
Goals: 32
Managers: Ron Atkinson (1989-91), Trevor Francis (1991-95), David Pleat (1995-96)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1989-1996

Unsuccessful spells with Manchester City and Nottingham Forest sandwiched the fabled career with Leeds United of John Sheridan. Yet Sheffield Wednesday came to the midfielder’s rescue in 1982 to end his City Ground nightmare. And after just three months with the Reds, he became an Owls icon.

It was also, arguably, at Hillsborough that Sheridan produced the finest displays of his career. He also produced the goal that secured Sheffield Wednesday the EFL Cup in April 1991 after scoring a rocket against Manchester United at Wembley. He drilled the ball into Les Sealey’s net in the 37th minute.

Sheridan continued to be an integral part of the Sheffield Wednesday set-up under Atkinson and also under Francis. But Pleat put an end to the Stretford-born star’s time in the limelight before granting a transfer to Bolton Wanderers following an initial loan spell. He also had a spell with Birmingham City.

What Sheridan showed under Atkinson and Francis secured his spot amongst Sheffield Wednesday’s legends, though. His classy displays brought composure to the engine room at Hillsborough. He also had the vision to spread inch-perfect passes as the conductor of an entertaining and successful side.

Tommy Crawshaw

Position: Centre-half
Appearances: 465
Goals: 26
Managers: Arthur Dickinson (1894-1908)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1894-1908

Tommy Crawshaw remains one of the all-time great Sheffield Wednesday legends, despite his career dating back to before WWI. The centre-half established himself as one of the Owls’ ultimate captains under Dickinson from 1894 to 1908. He also remains their only player to date to lift the FA Cup twice.

Dickinson established Crawshaw as a central cog in the Sheffield Wednesday squads at the end of the 19th century. He also saw the Sheffield native return to Crystal Palace in London to win the FA Cup as the Owls’ captain. While Crawshaw’s spell as the Owls’ skipper further featured two top-flight titles.

Consecutive campaigns as the best club in the country in 1902/03 and 1903/04, while winning the FA Cup in 1907, established Sheffield Wednesday as the best in the business then. And Crawshaw was at the core of their rise as a leader of men. He guided the Owls by example to become a fans’ favourite.

Dickinson knew straight away what a player he had at his disposal as Crawshaw became a first-team mainstay from his debut on the opening day of the 1894/95 season. He would also make his England debut during the term. But while his international career fluctuated, he was a fixture at Hillsborough.

Mel Sterland

Mel Sterland
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
Position: Right-back
Appearances: 344
Goals: 49
Managers: Jack Charlton (1978-83), Howard Wilkinson (1983-88)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1978-1988

From an upbringing on Sheffield’s Manor Estate, Mel Sterland was the local boy who made good with Sheffield Wednesday under Jack Charlton and Wilkinson. The attacking right-back helped the Owls to rise from the third division all the way back to the top tier. But he would leave before a title arrived.

Sheffield Wednesday fans not only celebrated Sterland for his place in ending their 15-year top-flight hiatus but for his character. He also sped along the flank at Hillsborough with a questionably permed mullet having enjoyed pace to burn. And his game reached new heights after arriving in Division One.

Sterland had his best season in the Owls’ blue-and-white shirt in 1985/86 during their second season back in the top-flight. Sheffield Wednesday also finished the season in fifth place, whilst reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup. The defender made the step up to Division One football with absolute ease.

Despite the more physical and talented wingers Sheffield Wednesday faced in the top-flight, Sterland often had an answer for them. He would also deliver an array of pin-point deliveries at the other end of the field. While a reunion with Wilkinson at Leeds in 1989 also later led to the 1991/92 top-flight title.

Barry Bannan

Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday: Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Position: Midfielder
Appearances: More than 350
Goals: More than 25
Managers: Carlos Carvalhal (2015-17), Jos Luhukay (2018), Steve Bruce (2019), Garry Monk (2019-20), Tony Pulis (2020), Darren Moore (2021-23)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 2015-present

Hillsborough continues to witness a Sheffield Wednesday legend ply his trade in Barry Bannan. The midfielder has cemented a place among the Owls’ greats since signing for the South Yorkshire natives in August 2015. Carlos Carvalhal secured his switch from Crystal Palace as the window wound down.

Bannan had found himself out of favour at Selhurst Park upon returning to south London following a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers. Yet the midfielder did not have to fight for a place at Hillsborough. The Scot instantly emerged as one of Sheffield Wednesday’s most important players upon his signing.

Carvalhal kept Bannan as a mainstay of his plans throughout the 2015/16 Championship season with 38 appearances as Sheffield Wednesday made the play-off final before losing to Hull City. The 27-cap former Tartan Army international’s form had also already convinced the Owls to give him a new deal.

Sheffield Wednesday legend Barry Bannan captained the Owls to promotion

Bannan only signed a one-year contract when he moved to South Yorkshire yet Sheffield Wednesday tied him down to a three-year extension in January 2016. The Owls have also continued to lock down the midfielder’s future at Hillsborough. Garry Monk also made Bannan their captain in August 2020.

Monk named Bannan as Sheffield Wednesday’s captain to ‘challenge him’, stripping Tom Lees of the armband. But the Owls suffered relegation from the Championship in his first term as the club’s skipper. Yet Bannan stuck around and led the Owls to the League One play-offs in the 2021/22 term.

Sheffield Wednesday would lose to Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals in 2021/22. Yet with Darren Moore at the helm and Bannan wearing the armband, the Owls finished the 2022/23 season with 96 points – missing out on automatic promotion by two points – before then winning the play-off final.

League One bid farewell to one of its best players with Bannan helping Sheffield Wednesday to play-off glory in 2022/23. He won the division’s Player of the Month award for March 2022 after missing out on the gong that February. The midfielder offered five goals and five assists over those two months.

Don Megson

Don Megson
Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Position: Left-back
Appearances: 442
Goals: 7
Managers: Eric Taylor (1952-58), Harry Catterick (1958-61), Vic Buckingham (1961-64), Alan Brown (1964-68), Jack Marshall (1968-69), Danny Williams (1969-70)
Years at Sheffield Wednesday: 1953-1970

Don Megson was a leader like no other through a storied spell at Hillsborough that saw the left-back become a Sheffield Wednesday legend. The Cheshire-born hero also captained the Owls, including in the 1966 FA Cup final against Everton after which he led the club on an unprecedented lap of honour.

Despite the South Yorkshire natives losing 3-2, Megson took Sheffield Wednesday around the pitch at Wembley. He had also played his part in another of the Owls’ iconic days. Megson was a part of their side that stunned FC Barcelona 3-2 in the first leg of the 1961/62 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup quarter-finals.

The slice of FA Cup history Megson made with Sheffield Wednesday in 1966 was only one of the high points that he enjoyed during his 17-year association with the club. He first signed professional forms with the Owls in 1953 before making his senior debut in a 1-1 draw with Burnley in November 1959.

Megson almost went a decade as the undisputed first-choice left-back at Hillsborough after his first-team breakthrough. A tough-tackling approach ensured he remained a vital part of the Owls’ efforts under a succession of managers. He also boasted sublime distribution and a commanding presence.