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Next Up - Barnsley & Luton Town (Published in Sheffield Wednesday's Official Programme)

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

BARNSLEY 08/02,13:30PM

Arjan de Zeeuw is perhaps best known for being part of the first Wigan side to reach the Premier League. However, the Dutchman's. first foray in English football was with Barnsley.

Having juggled medical science studies with Dutch amateur football, it wasn't until the age of 22 that de Zeeuw signed his first professional contract with Telstar, a second tier Dutch side.

In three seasons he amassed over 100 appearances and several suitors. Telstar were keen to cash in on their rising star and placed a large price tag on his head and this frustrated de Zeeuw, who wanted a move to a bigger club.

Nevertheless, in 1995 Barnsley coughed up €250,000 and brought him to England. In his first season, de Zeeuw helped his new employers reach the Premier League for the first time.

During their maiden Premier League campaign de Zeeuw played 26 times in a Barnsley team that were ultimately relegated, five points from safety.

Following a further season with Barnsley, de Zeeuw forged a career as a competent Premier League defender with Portsmouth and two stints at Wigan.

He also gained much attention in the media as he became an investigative detective, specialising in forensics following his retirement from football.

LUTON 12/02, 7:45PM

Adama Traore and Cristiano Ronaldo can be seen as perfect examples of a modern-day footballer's physique. One man who may be the antithesis of this is Steve McNulty.

The Mersey-born defender started his career in the Liverpool youth system before moving into the lower leagues. His first experience of professional football came following his promotion as captain with Barrow. which led to a move to Fleetwood Town and subsequently Luton in January 2013.

McNulty was originally signed on a short term deal at Kenilworth Road, with the deal set to be extended depending on promotion.

Luton eventually finished in seventh place outside of the promotion places but McNulty had impressed enough to be rewarded with a two-year contract extension.

McNulty's leadership, performances and unique physique made him a bonafide cult hero amongst the Luton fans.

He was vice captain for the successful 2013/14 season where he was part of a defence that kept 23 clean sheets and gained promotion to League Two.

McNulty won the club's Player of the Year award and Goal of the Season for an unbelievable 30-yard volley against Southport.

The following season, he was named club captain and earned a place in the League Two Team of the Year to cement his ever-popular status amongst Luton fans.

Peter Jones


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