Last season, former Owls winger Michail Antonio penned his thoughts on his time in S6 for our matchday programme, from making his debut against Sheffield United to helping Wednesday gain promotion in 2011/12.
Over to you, Michail...
I remember when I first heard of interest from Sheffield Wednesday to sign me. I started on the wing for Colchester, playing against Wednesday. Gary Megson was the manager and once the game finished he made a phone call to enquire about me because my loan was running up at Colchester.
It was an easy decision to make, I was playing in the middle of the table with Colchester and Sheffield Wednesday were pushing for the automatic places. It was just a great opportunity to try and go for a promotion push.
It wasn’t that difficult for me to settle in, I had been out on loan quite a bit so I was used to it. On my first day I came in wearing a snow-printed onesie! I didn’t know anyone, I came in my onesie to break the ice. I’m the kind of person where I will go up and introduce myself and over time I’ll get to meet and know people, and that’s how you start building a relationship.
My debut was against Sheffield United at Hillsborough! It was an amazing game, the atmosphere was unbelievable. It’s nice to be thrown into the deep end because obviously from there it makes things easier. I still remember Chris O’Grady scoring the goal.
I’ve played in a few derbies, Nottingham Forest v Derby, Southampton v Portsmouth, West Ham v Tottenham, so some quite big ones, and I’m saying that the Sheffield one is definitely up there.
When I joined, Wednesday had lost four on the bounce, then we went 14 games unbeaten. I managed to get five goals and six assists, which definitely helped in the promotion race, it was quality. I enjoyed it that much that I signed at the end of the season.
We played Carlisle at Hillsborough in the second to last home game of the season. It was 1-1, then in the last minute I scored with the last kick of the game into the far corner. It was unbelievable. It put us in the driving seat for automatic promotion, it’s up there with the best goals I’ve ever scored.
For the final game against Wycombe, we knew a win would get us up. The atmosphere was just amazing, especially after I scored the first goal. We had all four sides, around 39,000. As I’m running up with the ball with only the goalkeeper to beat I can hear the entire stadium stand up and the seats flipping back! I was so happy to knock it in and then hear the stadium erupt.
In the following summer I had other offers, but I built a nice bond with Sheffield Wednesday and I knew what I was getting involved in. Reading wanted to keep me, but I felt it had come to the end of my time there and I wasn’t getting much game time.
At the age I was, 22, I just wanted to play football and that’s what Wednesday were offering me.
I liked being in Sheffield, it was a nice, calm, chilled city. I was there with my missus and my kid and I enjoyed it. My son almost had a Yorkshire accent, but he’s lost it now!
I had played a couple of games in the Championship with Reading, but at Wednesday I found my feet as a Championship player moving forwards.
To be honest, at the time I didn’t feel like I needed to leave Sheffield Wednesday to get to the Premier League. I was there for two and a half years, I got nine goals and eleven assists in the first year and six goals and eleven assists in the second year, and I picked up a few injuries in the second year as well.
I didn’t need to move, I just needed to be more consistent, there were games where I’d be like a nine out of 10, and other games where I’d be a four. It was just getting the consistency and that’s how you become a Premier League player.
At the time, Sheffield Wednesday needed a bit of money and Forest put an offer in, so they sold me and it was a good move for me because Forest were always pushing for promotion, and Wednesday benefited by being able to sign a couple of players as well.
I went from getting nine goals a season to getting 15 goals in one year and getting a move to West Ham. I haven’t looked back since.
It was a great experience being at Sheffield Wednesday, I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great club that I hold dear to my heart and I still look at the table, and I watch them whenever they are on TV.