Memory match: PNE v Sheffield Wednesday

Paul Gallagher celebrates his winning goal for Preston North End against Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale in 2007
Paul Gallagher celebrates his winning goal for Preston North End against Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale in 2007
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Preston’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in September 15, 2007, proved to be a day to remember for current PNE talisman Paul Gallagher.

North End – then managed by Paul Simpson – secured all three points against the Owls at Deepdale courtesy of Gallagher’s first ever goal for the club.

After arriving on loan from Stoke City the previous month, Gallagher immediately made his mark in only his second game in a Lilywhites’ shirt.

He pounced on a rebound in the 28th minute to net from close range after fellow loan star and future England international Andy Carroll had an effort saved by visiting goalkeeper Lee Grant.

Surprisingly, it would be Gallagher’s only goal in that first loan spell and he returned to the Britannia Stadium in January 2008 after making 19 appearances.

After spells at Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield United and Leicester City, the creative forward player was enticed back to Deepdale in 2013 by manager Simon Grayson.

He spent the next two seasons on loan before signing a permanent deal last summer after his contract with the Foxes wound down.

Over the past three years he has made a further 120 appearances, notching 28 goals and helping the club secure promotion from League One.

He has been an integral figure this campaign – even captaining the side in the absence of Tom Clarke – as North End establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Championship.

Former LEP chief football writer Brian Ellis believes experience has turned the modern-day version of Gallagher into an even better player than he was during his first spell at the club.

“Gally back then was just like he is now,” said Ellis. “He was a quality player in what was a decent side.

“He has always had a great touch and played with a swagger, but I think he’s more controlled and more level-headed in his play nowadays.

“To me, he is the classiest player in the current North End team. He’s somebody who, given a few more opportunities, could have made it in the Premier League.

“But when he first came to Preston in 2007, he was a confident lad and had enjoyed a great unbringing at Blackburn.

“He only lived around the corner from Deepdale in Fulwood and that was one of the reasons why he came, because of the close proximity.

“He literally lived just a big a goal-kick away from the ground.”

Fellow loan star Carroll also returned to his parent club, Newcastle United, in January that season after scoring only one goal.

A number of injuries interrupted his spell at Deepdale and he left after making just 11 appearances. His time at the club also included a red card against Scunthorpe.

“The referees would always blow for a free-kick every time he would go up for a high ball,” said Ellis. “I don’t think the refs had seen a player of his style for quite some time.

“Off the pitch, I always remember him as a humble sort of a lad. Well mannered and a little bit quiet.”