Sheffield Wednesday's top 30 players - Number 7

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HITC Sport's countdown of the Owls' greatest ever players continues with Chris Waddle

It's difficult to compare Chris Waddle's transfer from Marseille to Sheffield Wednesday in modern terms. He was the ex-England star, former third-most expensive footballer in the world, European Cup finalist and, of course, popstar. While they were an unfashionable northern club, from a city licking its wounds post-Thatcher, who had finished third in their first season back in the top division.

Months before Waddle's arrival at Hillsborough, the Owls had missed out on the last ever First Division title to Leeds United by a margin of seven points. His capture was one they all hoped would eradicate that gap. And while things didn't quite go as planned, that's not to say it wasn't a damn good ride.

For all of the winger's brilliance, it couldn't make up for the absence of David Hirst during the 1992-93 campaign. Without their top scorer from the previous four seasons, Wednesday finished 16 points worse off in seventh. But their strongest displays came in the cups.

In April 1993, the Owls made the first of four trips to Wembley inside seven weeks, having been drawn against city rivals United in the semi-final of the FA Cup. It was an occasion tailor-made for Waddle.

With barely a minute and a half gone, the then 32-year-old put Wednesday in front - lashing a 25-yard free-kick over the wall and beyond the reach of Alan Kelly. "I just told Shez (John Sheridan) to get out of the way. I've been waiting to do that all season," recalled Waddle, as quoted by the Jason Dickinson book Sheffield Wednesday Miscellany.

United later equalised through Alan Cork, however, and frustrated their rivals through until extra-time, when Mark Bright's header won it for the Owls.

Though Trevor Francis' side lost the League Cup final 2-1 to Arsenal, they were handed an almost immediate chance for revenge after they were paired against the Gunners in the FA Cup showpiece. But after the initial fixture finished all-square, the two teams did battle again.

Just as he'd done previously, Ian Wright put Arsenal ahead in the first half of the replay, but Waddle, who'd been heavily involved throughout, equalised after the restart, before Wednesday went down to an Andy Linighan header in the final minute of extra-time.

Waddle's efforts did not go unnoticed, though, and he was named Football Writers' Association Player of the Year - becoming the first and only Owl to do so.

The following season, the Gateshead-born star continued to show his class, producing one of the most memorable individual displays in club history during a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham United at Hillsborough - in which he scored once and set up three having had what seemed to be about 90 per cent of the ball to himself. It will forever be known as 'the Waddle game' (watch it here).

Wednesday finished seventh again in 1993-94 but after 13th and 15th-placed finishes in the proceeding campaigns, and with the emergence of teenage sensation Ritchie Humphreys - who scored four goals in the first five matches of 1996-97 to put the Owls on top of the Premier League - Waddle was released.

Despite being in his 36th year, his career continued with Falkirk and Bradford City, before he realised a boyhood dream by signing for Sunderland. 

Waddle impacted on Sheffield Wednesday like few others have or will, and the feeling is clearly mutual - as he continues to live in the city and is often spotted at away matches.

Sheffield Wednesday career: 1992-1996

Appearances: 150

Goals: 15

International career: 1985-1991

Caps: 62

Goals: 6

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 13, Number 12, Number 11, Number 10, Number 9, Number 8

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