Chris Wilder thinks Phil Jagielka is the player the rest of the Sheffield United squad should take inspiration from.
The Blades have impressed in their first season in the Premier League in 12 years. They currently sit ninth in the table after nine matches on the back of a 1-0 victory over Arsenal last time out.
Part of what makes this achievement so special is that the majority of the players are those that earned them promotion last year. In fact the eight who have started all their league games so far were all mainstays in the Championship in 2018/19.
But it goes even further. The likes of Chris Basham, Jack O’Connell and John Fleck played for United in League One, yet now don’t look out of place in the top flight.
However, among these new faces to the division is a defender who currently has 362 Premier League appearances to his name – Jagielka.
Why Jagielka is such an inspiration
Now aged 37, the England international rejoined his boyhood club this summer after 12 years at Everton. The last time the Blades were in the top tier in 2006/07, Jagielka was a key figure for them.
At that point, like most of his current teammates, the centre-back had no Premier League experience. But his performances caught the eye of the Toffees, who signed him when United were relegated.
Wilder will of course be aiming to ensure his team’s stay in the division lasts more than one season this time around. Yet the story of Jagielka shows his players that they can achieve their dreams at Bramall Lane.
“In the past there are examples of players who have come out of the Championship. Jags was a great one. He did great for Sheffield United in the Championship. Everton bought him and he raised his game and ended up captaining England,” Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“I’m not saying any of my players are going to do that, but it’s just an example of what can happen. A boy comes into Sheffield United as a kid and ends up playing for his country.”