That time of the week again and this week, it’s looking at the lads that have recently played for us and Norwich. No ‘Hollywood’ names in this one I feel but enough to conjure a list that will make the memory bank tick once more!
Remember this kid? Well, he’s not so much a kid now, but when he played for us he was just a wee bairn in the squad and really made a name for himself at Wearside. Loans aside, he proved to be a great asset until he left in 2007 while Roy Keane was in charge. 66 appearances with nine goals may not scream prolific, however, he made up for it with his presence on the field. He moved to Norwich for £325,000 and lasted one season. I suppose getting sent off on your first start didn’t help either.
Sadly, he’ll always be remembered by us for what he did off the pitch, I won’t mention it here mind! You all know!
This Welshman gave everything he had while he was with us for two years. Initially joining us from Portsmouth on loan, he made such a great impact that we signed him straight away and it turned out to be one hell of a purchase. He played 42 games on the road to promotion and was instrumental throughout. Even though he didn’t score many goals here, his experience from previous clubs and international caps really did help us out. He then went to Carrow Road, again on loan, and again, impressed resulting in him leaving Sunderland. Although he only played one season there before his MLS move, he racked up 50 appearances in 15 months. Wherever he played he was loyal, a true footballer in every sense of the word.
Currently, he’s manager of the Vancouver Whitecaps, where they sit top of the Eastern Conference.
When he arrived at the Stadium of Light there was a tinge of excitement. The lanky centre half was tipped to be an England regular by Steve Bruce when he signed for us in 2009. His debut couldn’t have got off to a better start as well, scoring against his old team Hull City (even thought it was given as an own goal against Kamil Zayatte) at home and instantly became a fans favourite. He was solid and did put in a decent shift when called upon as well as sticking in some proper challenges, which we all love to see from the stands don’t we? However, he was caught flapping at times and some challenges were daft or late and was prone to injury also. He left us with no bitterness mind, as he joined Chris Hughton’s Norwich in 2012 and so far, he’s done alright.
It was a shame that we didn’t give this lad more than one season between the sticks, he proved to be a very good goalkeeper for us and his experience solidified our back four in a way. Before he was unveiled at the Academy of Light, he was at Norwich in between 2004-06, where he could only manage one appearance for the club as he had to wrestle Robert Green from the top spot. It was always going to be tough as Green was seen as one of England’s best young keepers. He simply wanted to play, so he came to us and even after a shaky start, he eventually got his wish making 33 appearances in total for us, including a wonderful save against Southampton, anyone remember that?
He was released after the signing of Craig Gordon and immediately announced his retirement from the game. It’s not all doom and gloom though as he is now the goalkeeper coach at Sheffield United.
Dubbed the ‘next Kevin Phillips’ when we signed him from Manchester City, the young Irishman already had pressure on his shoulders to fill in for one of our greatest forwards from our modern era. He took that in his stride and bagged an impressive 16 goals in his first season with us and picked up the Young Player of the Season award to add to that. It was a shame that after such a positive start he suffered injury after injury. Maybe it was all those trips to Boldon Cinema that started it all. What some fans will remember him for was not only his belter against Manchester United, no, no – but his screamer against Newcastle in 2005.
He managed to bag nine appearances for the senior Republic of Ireland squad too, which was pleasing to see. His stint at Norwich was only a brief one via an emergency loan, but he made an impact, scoring two goals in ten appearances.
Well then, there you have it. A modern twist on this week’s picks and it was one that may cause a debate or two no doubt. Is there anyone you would have up there? If so who? Comment below!