Revealed: Sunderland Fans Favourite Player Of The Last Ten Seasons!

You've been voting now for weeks on end in our player polls, and finally a winner has been crowned. Congratulations go to the winner, and commiserations to the loser as we go through the tournament and give some love to the champion of champions...

First of all a big thanks go to everyone who voted through this long and occasionally arduous process, without you voting there was little point in the whole venture, so give yourself a little congratulation.

And now for how things panned out from start to finish, including a salute to our champion which was crowned late last night.

Drawing up a list of 32 players wasn't easy. Hence why the likes of Phil Bardsley and Gary Breen were unfortunately included. However this was also the point of the vote, we didn't want to make it both easy and obvious as we tried to crown the top player from the season 2003/04 onwards.

That obvious winner would likely have been Kevin Phillips, and very worthwhile it would have been had he even come into consideration. Give his lack of anything in 2003/04 as he was sold to Southampton there was no need to include him in our process.

And so the names were decided. 32 players from that season to the present day all were written down and crunched up and popped into a hat before being drawn out at random. Some criticized the lack of seeding, we felt it was simply fairer and seeding would have essentially made the process null and void. We wanted to leave it to chance and your votes, so a bracket was formed.

The bracket came about just purely to make things a little more interesting. Can't say there was any great logic (if any) behind it other than you can see who might meet who in the latter rounds.

The first matchup saw Nicklas Bendtner take on Bolo Zenden with an easy victory for the Dutchman, who met Djibril Cisse in the second round having ousted Carlos Edwards.

In what was considered a pair of 'basement battles' here at the Towers, with John Mensah taking on Dwight Yorke and the aforementioned Bardsley taking on Breen. Mensah it was who went through to take on Bardsley in the second round, proving no matter what you say about him, he's better than Gary Breen. Well done Phil.

Thankfully a pair of big clashes followed. Steven Fletcher took on Craig Gordon and won while Darren Bent didn't seem to irk people too much as he overcame Kenwyne Jones in his first round matchup.

In the left hand side of the draw the final clashes saw Mart Poom quite comfortably overcome George McCartney, while former loanee Danny Welbeck was deemed better and more worthy than former captain Dean Whitehead.

Everything pretty much according to plan there, although Welbeck versus Whitehead was something of a mild shock.

Over to the other side where at the top we saw Kieran Richardson absolutely beast things against David Connolly, who proved as feeble an opposition as Shay Given against a Rico freekick.

Richardson went on to face Steed Malbranque in the next round, with the Mouscron Magician dominating the 'Boro Battler, Lee Cattermole.

Two current players also clashed in the first round with Seb Larsson proving to be more of a fans favourite than Adam Johnson, who was dumped out in unceremonious fashion. Larsson took on Julio Arca, a favourite for the competition, in the next round after the Argentine booted Jordan Henderson into touch.

Simon Mignolet had no trouble beating Marcus Stewart while Stephane Sessegnon made easy work out of Jack Colback's opposition in their clash, setting up a duel in the second round between the two former teammates.

The first round drew to a close with John O'Shea somewhat surprisingly managed to overcome Jonny Evans, which came as a bit of a surprise to me at least given how fondly Evans' time on Wearside is remembered.

In the final, final clash of the first round Danny Rose proved to be far too much of an opponent for Asamoah Gyan, who danced himself out of the tournament. When it came down to it, it seems that that astonishing move to the UAE was still something which narked everyone.

And so the second round was upon us. With the men sorted from the boys we cracked on with a matchup between. Zenden and Cisse, which once again saw the Dutchman prevail in what was on paper a fairly evenly matched contest.

John Mensah put an end to Phil Bardsley's remote chances and earned himself a place in the quarter final on the basis of simply not being Phil Bardsley, before what was one of the biggest shocks of the whole entire contest...

Darren Bent up against Steven Fletcher showed that clearly some fans still have a very, very bitter taste in their mouths about Bent and unanimously voted Fletcher in to the next round. This one came as a shock to us here as like him or loathe him, Bent was a superb player for us barring a few horrible days when he decided to do one down to Birmingham.

Fletcher moved on though and earned himself a tie with Mart Poom, who overcame Danny Welbeck in their matchup.

Over to the other side of the draw and Steed Malbranque was back in action against Keiran Richardson. Having decimated David Connolly the first round the purveyor of Mag-slaying freekicks couldn't replicate such form and went out against Steed.

Two rather handsome fellows in Seb Larsson and Julio Arca also met in this round, and despite his dreaminess, the Swede proved no match for Arca who went onto set up a tie with Malbranque.

Two more tough clashes came about and drew a close to the second round with Simon Mignolet beating out Stephane Sessegnon and Danny Rose, despite only a season under his belt, was more than a match for John O'Shea whom he beat comfortably.

Zenden's rather easy path to the final continued when he came up against John Mensah in the quarter finals and took out the Ghanaian in some style, while Fletcher overcame the challenge of Mart Poom, proving on and off the pitch that 'keepers just can't keep him out.

The other side of the draw was always the tougher and it saw some rip-snorting ties with Malbranque coming up against Arca, and in the battle of the tricksters Malbranque proved among you lot to be more popular than the Argentine. A mild shock? I'd say so.

Meanwhile rounding off the quarter final section Simon Mignolet took on Danny Rose and was quite comfortable in dumping the Spurs defender out of the competition.

Our semi finals were set.

Bolo Zenden took on Steven Fletcher, and despite doing well enough to get this far, it was the end of the road for Bolo who was smashed by Fletcher by nearly a 3-1 ratio of votes.

The other semi however was bordering on a final in itself as Malbranque took on Mignolet, a battle of Belgian-born brothers, or words to that effect. The vote for this one switched hands several times of the course of the day but come the closing bell, Malbranque it was who took the narrowest of victories.

And so we reached the final yesterday. Steven Fletcher vs Steed Malbranque. Perhaps not at all what anyone predicted before the tournament. In fact having conducted the draw, my immediate reaction was that the final would be Bent vs Arca for some reason. Goes to show how much I know!

The final was little more than a procession for Steed Malbranque, who walks away with our title. Having lead the voting all day, the final numbers settled on were a massive winning margin of 79% to Fletcher's lowly 21%.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your champion, Steed Malbranque!

Always a crowd favourite despite his inability to complete 90-minutes and a lack of goal-scoring, it was more what he did for others. He played a large part in the success of Kenwyne Jones, Darren Bent and to a lesser extent Asamoah Gyan.

The ball seemed to stick to his foot like it was glued on at times, mesmerising with skill and ability whilst also maintaining a strong work ethic for the limited time he was on the pitch.

He may have left the club in bizarre circumstances, amid rumours a son he never actually had was terminally ill, but he's still lighting up the French league with Lyon and obviously well loved by Sunderland fans.

Once again, raise a glass to the man you voted our best player of the past ten years... STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED.

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