Sheffield Wednesday's top 30 players - Number 11

HITC Sport's countdown of Sheffield Wednesday's greatest ever players continues with David Hirst

Now I know what you're thinking - David Hirst, number 11? But Sheffield Wednesday have had some truly outstanding footballers in their time.

Without the constant stream of injuries which plagued him during the mid-nineties, Hirst would, without question, be sat far higher on this list. He was arguably the most complete centre-forward ever to play for the Owls - with pace, power, heading, and finishing (with both feet) among his many strengths.

Plucked from local rivals Barnsley after fewer than 30 senior matches in 1986, it didn't take long for the Hirst to establish himself in a Wednesday side at home in the old First Division.

Then only 18, he marked his Hillsborough debut with a goal in the Owls' 2-2 draw with Everton, and finished the campaign with a respectable tally of six in 21 appearances.

Though Wednesday suffered relegation in 1990, the drop down a division seemed to catalyse the best of Hirst, who scored 32 goals to fire Ron Atkinson's side back into the top flight in 1990-91, and picked up a League Cup winners' medal along the way.

Hirst top scored for the Owls again the following campaign - finding the net 21 times in all competitions - with his form attracting the attention of England manager Graham Taylor.

The Wednesday number 9 scored once in three appearances for the Three Lions, and prompted Taylor's predecessor Sir Bobby Robson to utter the famous words: "It's not a question of who will replace (Gary) Lineker, but who will partner David Hirst." However, his place would go to Alan Shearer instead.

An ankle injury ruled Hirst out of much of the 1992-93 season, but he still managed 11 league goals and was on target in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the final of the FA Cup - ensuring a replay which the Owls would proceed to lose 2-1.

Earlier that season, Hirst had been the subject of several unsuccessful bids from Manchester United, who instead turned to some French bloke called Cantona - whoever he is.

Hirst would later admit, during an interview with the Daily Mail, that not joining United was one of his biggest career regrets, with injuries blighting the remainder of his spell at Hillsborough.

In October 1997, he became the latest in a long line of fan favourites to be shown the door by David Pleat - who was relieved of his duties the following month - after he was sold to Southampton for a Saints' club-record fee of £2million.

And it was at The Dell where Hirst's career would come to an end, somewhat prematurely, at the age of 32, following medical advice. He remains the owner of the the Premier League's fastest-ever shot (see it here), which clocked 114mph and would still be rattling the Highbury crossbar had Arsenal's former home not been converted into flats.

Hirst returned to Hillsborough as a coach earlier this decade, tasked with passing on his wisdom to the next generation of Owls goalscorers - including, quite probably, his son George, who recently scored twice on his debut for England's Under-17s.

Sheffield Wednesday career: 1986-1997

Appearances: 358

Goals: 128

Honours: Rumbelows Cup, winner (1990-91)

The countdown so far: Number 30, Number 29, Number 28, Number 27, Number 26, Number 25, Number 24,Number 23, Number 22, Number 21, Number 20, Number, 19, Number 18, Number 17, Number 16,Number 15, Number 14, Number 13Number 12

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