Sheffield Wednesday's top 30 players - Number 20

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HITC Sport's run-down of Sheffield Wednesday's greatest ever players continues with Mel Sterland.

Not many right-backs can boast a goal tally like the man they used to call 'Zico', such was his ability to strike a football.

Melvyn 'Mel' Sterland, who fell into the role by accident, scored 49 times in 347 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday and gave a decade of service to his boyhood club.

Raised on the city's notorious Manor estate, the former Hillsborough match-goer made his senior debut in 1979, in front of around 7,000 supporters in the third tier, but by the time of his departure at the end of the next decade, he'd appeared in two FA Cup semi-finals in front of a combined 102,000 people.

Despite scoring in the final home game of the 1978-79 campaign against Hull City, shortly after his debut against Blackpool, it took until September 1981 for Sterland, then a midfielder, to finally kick on at Hillsborough - courtesy of an injury to right-back Ray Blackhall.

Howard Wilkinson replaced Jack Charlton (who was less fond of 'Zico' and preferred to call Sterland the 'flying pig') as Owls manager in 1983, a move which catalysed the club's ascent to the top flight after a 14-year absence, and Sterland scored the goal that clinched their promotion against Crystal Palace the following year.

Sterland admits in the Jason Dickinson book Sheffield Wednesday Miscellany that he found training "a lot tougher" under Wilkinson, whom he eventually followed to Leeds United via a spell at Rangers, adding there was a clause in his contract which stipulated that for every pound he weighed over the 13 stones 2 limit, he would be fined £100.

In 1988, having helped Wednesday to two top-half finishes in the First Division, Sterland became the first Owl in two decades to win a cap for England, after appearing in a friendly against Saudi Arabia.

The following year, with Wilkinson having left for Elland Road, Sterland was also on his way out of Hillsborough after being stripped of the captaincy by Peter Eustace (top player number 29), and his three goals in nine appearances helped Rangers win their second league title in three seasons.

However, Sterland returned to Yorkshire with Leeds that summer and went on to lift the First Division as a Whites player in 1991-92. Despite this - and the fact he played the captain Sheffield United in the film When Saturday Comes - 'Zico' is fondly remembered by those of a Blue and White persuasion.

Sheffield Wednesday career: 1979-1989

Appearances: 347

Goals: 49

International caps (while at the club): 1

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