1992 was a landmark year in sport.
Linford Christie became only the third ever athlete from the United Kingdom to win the 100-metre final at the Olympics in Barcelona whilst Denmark shocked the world by winning their first ever major honour at the Euro’s, defeating world champions Germany in Sweden.
Yet despite these historic moments, Sheffield Wednesday supporters will undoubtedly remember 1992 for the arrival of Chris Waddle from Olympique Marseille.
After winning the Ligue 1 title on three consecutive occasions with Les Phoceens, the winger returned to the top flight of English football as one of the nation’s biggest stars and he soon demonstrated his magnificent ability for the Owls. During his debut season at the club, Waddle played on 55 occasions and provided the experience needed for his team to thrive in the cup competitions as they reached the finals of the League Cup and the FA Cup.
Unfortunately for Wednesday, they met an Arsenal side managed by George Graham on both occasions. A 2-1 loss in the League Cup was replicated by the same scoreline in the FA Cup, although the latter was achieved by the Gunners via a replay after the original tie ended in a draw at Wembley Stadium.
Despite their defeats, Wednesday had allowed their supporters to dream once again and with Waddle in the side, they went onto to finish in seventh place in both the 1992/93 and 1993/94 campaigns. The following two seasons saw the Owls struggle in the Premier League as the absence of the former Marseille midfielder due to a number of injury problems impacted his side.
After making 147 appearances for the club over a period of four years in which he scored 15 goals, Waddle was surprisingly released by then-manager David Pleat in 1996. Spells at Falkirk, Bradford City and Sunderland followed yet the midfielder failed to reach the same levels that he had demonstrated during his time at Wednesday.
The achievement of reaching the FA Cup final in 1993 remains to this day the last time that the Owls have made it to a major domestic final. Since the turn of the century, the club’s form in England’s cup competitions has seen them fail to make it past the semi-finals, illustrating just how special their run was 26 years ago.
Although ultimately he didn’t win any silverware at the club, Waddle provided Wednesday supporters of a certain age with two moments that they will always remember and therefore is still regarded as a hero amongst many at Hillsborough.
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