Sheffield Wednesday have lost “a great man and a great player” after the weekend passing of legendary goalkeeper Ron Springett.
Former Owls team mate David Ford led the tributes to the ex-England international who died aged 80, after a short illness, describing Springett as “a true Wednesday hero.”
Ford watched Springett from the terraces as a boyhood Wednesdayite, then became a colleague of the Londoner and said he watched in awe at the way in which Springett would bring a calm to the team when the Owls were under pressure.
“He was a great man and a great player and I was so sorry when I heard the news,” Ford said.
“I grew up as a boy supporting Wednesday and I used to watch him play - he was a great goalkeeper, a true Wednesday hero, and I saw for myself when I got into the team just how good he was.
“There was a calmness about him - when he was playing you were sure, he brought confidence to everyone else in the team.
“If we were ever under pressure he would just rise up and pluck the ball out of the air. He’d look around and had a look about him as if to say ‘what’s all the fuss about’ though he would never have said such a thing.”
Then boss Eric Taylor signed Springett from QPR in March 1958, though the keeper, who would go on to represent England at the 1962 World Cup and then feature in the squad for the home success four years later, as understudy to Sheffield-born stopper Gordon Banks, never moved north.
Such was Taylor’s desparation to bring Springett to Hillsborough that the manager made the very rare decision to allow him to remain in London and train with QPR and only meet up with the team for games.
“That tells you all you need to know about Ron,” adds Ford. “The fact that he was wanted so badly that they would do that, but also his professionalism, they knew they could trust him, that he would be there every day, working hard.”
Springett made 384 appearances for Wednesday, including the FA Cup final defeat to Everton in 1966, before moving back to QPR in a swap deal with his brother, Peter a year after the showpiece at Wembley. He earned 33 England caps while at Hillsborough, making his debut against Ireland at Wembley in 1959.