Roker Report's very own Dan Williams had the pleasure of speaking with former SAFC wing wizard, Nicky Summerbee. Nicky went over all things SAFC, including how we're doing on the pitch now, the Darren Bent debacle, and some interesting insight into his time at the club...
In general, have you been impressed with Sunderland this season?
Nicky: I have yeah, I still get to games up at the stadium and think that they have a very good side and Steve Bruce is taking them in the right direction. I really can't see why they can't push on and take that Europa spot. Its strange, this season, as people will focus on the derby and what happened at St James’ Park, but that seems to have kicked Sunderland on and really started their season, and its gone the other way a little bit at the same time for Newcastle...
Have to ask - what did you make of the Bent saga?
Nicky: I thought it was pretty shocking, but the team has to come together, get over it and move on. Unfortunately, it’s the way of the game now, it’s all become very money orientated and it was a good offer, so off he goes. As they say, no player is bigger than the team. We had a great team spirit up there in my time, like a family, and the club will get over it and move on. You only have to look at the position in the league where Villa are to see that it was all about money, but that happens now.
What would you say was your best SAFC memory?
Nicky: Just running out in front of the crowd at that stadium. It was great when I was there, and although we just missed out on promotion, losing the playoffs, we regrouped and murdered it the year after. It is an amazing place to be, definitely the best place I played football, and definitely the best I played during my career too, I was just disappointed not to get a new contract at the time because I wanted more of it, and wanted it to carry on. The boss was trying other players in my spot when I knew that I was playing well and could do better, so it was a massive shame. You only have to look at my career after that, its was a bit of a disaster really, but I hold nothing against Peter Reid, I honestly just wanted it all to carry on. People say that its hard to settle in Sunderland, or you don't want to move to live there, but its about playing football, not the shopping, and there is no better place to play the game than up there, in front of those fans.
So does that taint your memory of Sunderland at all? Not getting the new contract?
Nicky: No not at all. I still look back on he club very, very fondly, and, as I said, it is the best place I've played the game and the best I've ever played, it just finished too quickly for me. I still go up there a lot now and talk to Quinny, see how everything is, and I do a lot of after dinner work in the area too. People up there seem to like me, and I like them too. I speak very highly of Sunderland and always will. I'm still mates with most of the team from then, as we had such a great spirit, so Steve Bould, Chris Makin, Paul Butler, Niall and Mickey Gray, we still all get on great, because we got on so well when we were playing together.
Do you have a favourite player at the club now?
Nicky: Hmm... That’s a good question. I am definitely a big fan of Lee Cattermole, he's an excellent player, and the team really miss him when he's not playing. Phil Bardsley as well, he's been brilliant this season, he's improved a lot and is a very dependable, solid defender now. And that bloke up front who does all the dancing, what’s his name? Asamoah Gyan, he's a great player too, but I'd have to go for Cattermole I think.
We have a tough run of games now, but some very winnable ones in the run in... Can we keep it up and get 6th spot?
Nicky: I definitely think so, you just need that good run of form. There are some hard games on the way, but someone passed me a stat the other day that said Sunderland created over twenty chances at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, so there is no reason that they can't get points from the supposed harder games. Everyone can beat each other in this league this season, and with a few good results, the spirit in the camp gets going and confidence improves, and I think they honestly have every chance of picking the wins that they need and getting that last spot.
Pleasure to have spoken with you Nicky, I hope we can be in touch again soon!
Nicky is available for after dinner talks and speeches. Anyone interested should contact us at Roker Report.