VALERIEN Ismael showed the Barnsley squad a picture of Wembley Stadium in a team meeting last week, says captain Alex Mowatt who is hoping to lift the Championship play-off trophy there in three weeks.
The Reds qualified for the play-offs almost a fortnight ago, with two games to spare, with the skipper now hoping to lead them into the Premier League.
Mowatt told the Chronicle: “It would be unbelievable. We had a meeting last week and the gaffer put a picture of Wembley on the board. Everyone in the room had goosebumps.
“It would be incredible for the club and we have a big chance to do that. Everyone is excited.
“If I was the captain of a Barnsley team that got promoted to the Premier League, it would be great.”
The only previous Barnsley captain to take the Reds into the top flight was Neil Redfearn in 1997, who was Mowatt’s coach at Leeds United. Mowatt is still in touch with Redfearn and his partner Lucy Ward who is a former footballer and now a pundit. Mowatt said: “Redders wrote me a post on Twitter recently. I still keep in touch with him and Lucy, she texted me after I got in team of the season. I remember coming to Oakwell with Leeds’ youth team and Redders was our manager. People came to the game just to get his autograph. If I could do what he did, that would be great.”
Mowatt was sent off on his Barnsley debut in 2017 then sent out on loan to Oxford United in League One with the Reds looking to offload him in the summer of 2018 before Daniel Stendel made him a key part of the promotion side that season. He said: “When I was at Oxford, I wanted to come back to Barnsley and get my career back on path after a few disappointing seasons. Since then, I have only missed three games in three seasons which is a big achievement alone – then off the back of that we’ve had promotion, stayed up right at the end of last season and now this season.
“There is never a season at Barnsley which isn’t dramatic at the end.”
Mowatt was last week named in the Championship Team of the Year.
He said: “I didn’t find out until about 20 minutes before it was released on TV.
“I was buzzing. I think a few of the other lads deserved to be in the team.
“The gaffer deserved to be in there as well for what he’s done since he arrived.”
Barnsley faced Preston North End on Saturday who have Liam Lindsay and Brad Potts – two of Mowatt’s team-mates from the 2018/19 promotion season.
They are among several players, including Kieffer Moore at Cardiff and Stoke’s Jacob Brown who left Oakwell in recent years but have finished below the Reds in the Championship this season.
“I think everyone has got good words to say about what we’ve done this season. Players like Pottsy and Linds are buzzing for us after being here and seeing the journey we went on.
“Browny stays in touch with all the lads. They are all sending nice messages and we still have a WhatsApp group.”
Mowatt played every match in 2018/19 and would be on course to do the same this season if it was not for a positive coronavirus test which caused him to miss the loss at Norwich City on January 2. The Reds now face the Canaries tomorrow in their final game of the season.
“It annoys me that I didn’t play that game, especially because it wasn’t an injury. It really annoys me but hopefully I will play Norwich this time.”
Asked about his contract, which expires at the end of the season, Mowatt said: “Everything has just been pushed aside now we’re just focusing on promotion. It will get spoken about after.”