Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
Wednesday skipper Lee Bullen started his 103rd match in the blue and white in the 2-0 victory over rivals Sheffield United - here, Ashley Ball waxes lyrical about the Scotsman...
Referring to him as the Scottish Pele is a little unrealistic, but the veteran 'utility man' certainly is the ultimate professional, and has cemented his place in the hearts of all Wednesdayites, thanks to his undoubted commitment and willingness to help out in times of crisis.
Lee began his career at Meadowbank Thistle, after being scouted as a youngster, he then moved on to Stenhousemuir, whilst working part time in a bank, he made his first move abroad to Australia as Lee says "things weren't going well for me at the time in Scotland" his decision was aided by having family in Australia, he joined a club called Stanmore, then moved onto Wollongong Wolves before moving onto Hong Kong, playing in a prestigious game against the English national team in 1996, whilst in Hong Kong he impressed a Greek business man who owned his hometown club in Greece.
Along with a few other players in Hong Kong, the chairman offered terms at a club called Kalamata, and the globetrotting Bullen moved once again.
Lee, finally returned back to his homeland and enjoyed a successful period at Dunfermline, it was in this time that they reached a League Cup Final before the fairytale ended against Celtic.
Chris Turner brought Lee to South Yorkshire at the beginning of the 2004-05 campaign. The little known player at the time immediately endeared himself to the fans at the first away game at Blackpool, despite playing out of position at left back, (however he was to become familiar with the adopted role of utility man) he managed to grab a goal, and this is the one he described as his favourite in an Owls shirt.
During the promotion season Lee showed both his versatility and desire to fight for the cause, this will have further improved his popularity with the Hillsborough faithful.
He describes leading the Owls out at the Playoff final in Cardiff as his proudest moment. His first season with the Owls ended with 6 goals, including a stunning volley against Torquay.
Along with the promotion Lee also earned the 05/06 Wash and Go player of the season award, for playing in all eleven positions for the Owls, including an appearance in goal at Millwall, when David Lucas got seriously injured, with no keeper on the bench, the ever willing Bullen offered his services, Bullen jokes that the only thing rarer than a Scotsman keeping a clean sheet is an American (Frank Simek) getting the winning goal!
That win in South London turned out to be vital as the Owls built on that performance and managed to survive in the Championship rather comfortably in the end of their first season back in the second tier, despite a relatively slow start.
Last season saw a lesser involved Bullen, mainly due to the development of defender Frank Simek, alongside the experienced Graham Coughlan added to this was the good form of academy graduate Richard Wood, whom the Scotsman rates highly. A highlight of that season for Bullen was getting the equaliser against Manchester City in an FA Cup replay.
This season has seen Lee in and out of the first team and with only a year left on his contract the 36 year olds Hillsborough days appear to be numbered, with a return to Scotland seeming most likely.
The future for Lee seems to be as cultured as his career so far. Not only is he undertaking a Sports Journalism degree at Stafford University, but he is also at Grade A with UEFA coaching badges, and has also spent time coaching the under 15s and 16s at the Middlewood Training Ground, added to this the experience and the links abroad, football management could also be on the horizon for the Scot. He agrees but hints that it`s a matter of "getting your foot in the door."
As for Sheffield Wednesday`s future he predicts that success may not be all that far away. For 17 year old Mark Beevers in particular, he suggests that either he will go on to make the Owls "a lot of money" or be a "great servant to the club" or that due to the financial predicament that the Owls find themselves in that this can only be a good thing.
Lee has made himself a Wednesday hero due to his commitment to fight for the cause and willingness to "fill in" when injuries and suspensions occur. Added to this, he has been the ultimate professional in his time at Hillsborough and described it as a "fantastic club to play for." The likes of Bullen are now a rare breed in the English game, but his time at Hillsborough will live long in the memory of Owls fans and he would certainly be a popular choice for a future Sheffield Wednesday manager.
In the modern day game it seems, there's only one Lee Bullen.
Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
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