Sheffield Wednesday skipper Glenn Loovens has joined the growing number of people lining up to pour praise on one of the Owls’ unsung heroes.
While the headlines regularly feature players like Fernando Forestieri and Barry Bannan, Kieran Lee’s dynamism often goes unnoticed.
It was an injury-time goal on Tuesday night against Bristol City, however, which plunged Lee into a starring role, something which the quiet man of the Wednesday dressing room modestly attempts to keep a lid on.
While those outside the Hillsborough inner circle of players and coaches talk up the abilities of other star names, Loovens and head coach Carlos Carvalhal can’t speak highly enough of the former Manchester United reserve and his importance to the team.
“I think he has been unbelievable since the first time I stepped into this club,” said Loovens, who could make a return to the starting line-up for the trip to Birmingham City, due to the suspension of Sam Hutchinson.
“For me he is a dark horse. I watched him the other day (against Bristol City) and saw him helping the left wing out, tracking the ball back to the goalkeeper.
“Ten seconds later he is helping out the right-back.
“He is that type of guy who never stops running. Everywhere you feel like you need him, he is there and pops up.
“Both defensively and going forward, he is a really good player.
“Sometimes I feel he is (under-rated), credit always gets given to other players, you never really hear his name. He should be the first name on the teamsheet, he gives you so much and is a top player.
“Off the pitch, he doesn’t say a word. He just keeps his business to himself. He works hard, never moans, and is a pleasure to have around.”
After making such strides in the past few years firstly under Stuart Gray and then Carvalhal, Loovens was asked if Lee could make the step up and play in the top flight.
“Hopefully, we can all join him in this task,” the Owls captain added. “Everyone can see he has qualities, but I aim to keep him here.”
Carvalhal doesn’t often single out players for plaudits, but Lee is one he doesn;t shy away from praising.
“He’s a fantastic player. Coaches look to him 100 per cent,” said Carvalhal.
“People are starting to understand how important he is but to a coach it is very easy after you see the player for two to three days. He is a team worker and he has quality. He deserved his goal. But he knows and so do we that it is a collective process. It was not individual.”
From a personal point of view, Loovens has admitted he is more than ready to step back into the starting XI, if selected, having recovered from ankle surgery.
“I feel really good, I have trained now three and a half weeks, had two and a half games, so I feel ready,” he said.
“You want to be part of it, but I played with an injury all last season, and didn’t want to have another season like that.
Sometimes you have to take care of yourself, and out yourself first, that’s what I did.”