DES Buckingham says he will ‘forever be grateful’ for the opportunity Chris Wilder handed to him, in promoting to him Oxford United’s first team backroom staff.

Buckingham worked with various age group sides at United, before progressing to the first team under Wilder at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.

On Tuesday, Wilder was appointed Sheffield United manager for the second time, taking over a Blades side bottom of the Premier League.

His first game back ended in a 2-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, with Virgil van Dijk and Dominik Szoboszlai scoring for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Buckingham is excited to see how Wilder fares, in what looks on the surface like a tough challenge for the 56-year-old.

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“He brought me into the first team environment. I’d worked at the club for seven years up until that, but never with the first team, so he was the first person to give me that opportunity at first team level,” said Buckingham.

“I’ll forever be grateful for that. It’s allowed me to go on and have the journey I have to this point.

“It’s so good to see him back, firstly in coaching, and secondly, at his boyhood club, and back in the Premier League. It’s an exciting one to see what he can now do again.”

Asked whether Wilder left the greatest impression on him, among all the coaches he has worked with, Buckingham responded: “He’s certainly amongst the top few. He’s had a very big impact.

“There’s been Mickey Lewis, but Chris is another one, and there are others around the world that I’ve been fortunate to work with, but Chris would certainly be up there.”


Wilder, who spent just over five years with the U’s between December 2008 and January 2014, has agreed a contract until the summer of 2025 at Bramall Lane.

His first spell with the Blades saw him guide the club to the Sky Bet League One title, before finishing second in the Championship and ninth in the Premier League in later seasons.

His time with United meanwhile is remembered fondly, having ended the club’s four-year exile in non-league football in 2010 by leading the side to promotion via the play-offs.

Buckingham told BBC Radio Oxford’s The Dub podcast earlier this week: “He certainly had a massive impact on me, and getting us back into the Football League, and how he went about doing that in a very tough Conference, was really interesting as a young coach at that time.

“With Chris, it was about being very strong on what you want to do and how you want to do it, and being very honest with the people you work with, but having a really strong and healthy relationship where you can challenge and push.”