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Cult Heroes: Patrice Carteron

Cult Heroes returns once again with David Boyle examining a flying French full-back's short, but heroic stay on Wearside...

As mentioned in previous installments of Cult Heroes I've always had somewhat of a fascination with right backs. From my inception as a Sunderland fan back in 1995 when Dariusz Kubicki was marshalling the right flank right up to the present day with Nedum Onouha. Over the years the position has evolved to meet the fast paced needs of the modern game with players like Dani Alves of Barcelona typifying the attacking prowess of the wing back role and Sunderland fans were to get their first taste of this emerging role in the shape of this week's Cult Heroes.

In 2001 a Sunderland legend in the shape of Chris Makin was controversially moved out of the club to pastures new in East Anglia with the Tractor Boys. Makin had made a name for himself with the Sunderland faithful as a tough tackling, neat and tidy right back with an eye for goal, OK, maybe not so much the goal scoring exploits. Chris' boots were going to be big ones to fill.

Enter Patrice Carteron.

The man from Saint-Brieuc only made eight appearances in the red and white during his loan spell in the North East, but like many before him, it was enough to instill a lifelong love and attachment to the club. Carteron was even quoted earlier this year on the game that shall not be mentioned.

"When I saw their game against Newcastle, I was really angry because I knew how important it was for the fans to get a good result against the Mags"

This coming from a man who knows first hand what the derby means and even what it feels like to hit the back of the net on such an occasion.

The 2000/2001 season saw one of the more hard fought derbies of recent memory as the Black Cats looked to cement a European position with a victory over a injury ravaged Newcastle. Flowing football was not on the menu that day as the home fans were served up tackle after tackle as Mike Riley struggled to keep a lid on the game and Shay Given kept Sunderland at bay with a succession of saves.

If any game was crying out for a moment of inspiration and skill it was this one and the Gallic loanee was the man to step up to the plate.

Patrice was the first glimpse of a modern wing-back that the SoL had seen, a pacey right back with a number of tricks up his sleeve. In fact Carteron was so keen to get forward and support the attack that at times it was hard to actually call him a full back.

The stage was set and Sunderland finally made their possession and dominance of the game count in the sixty-seventh minute in a beautiful counter attack as Hutchinson released the Frenchman with a defence splitting pass. Carteron covered over seventy yards before slotting the ball past the previously unbeatable Given. The celebrations that followed were magical, something I'll never forget. The stadium errupted and Patrice learned in that split second what the North East derby is all about and dutifully went crazy himself.

Carteron's attacking urges and desire to get himself into the final third of the pitch made him a firm favourite with the crowd, but apparently not so much with the gaffer. After making only eight appearances for Sunderland, Patrice returned to St. Etienne and Reid instead opted for a man with the best name in footballing history, the hapless Bernt Haas.

Carteron is currently the manager of Dijon in the French Ligue 2 and while he may not have cut the mustard for Reid he remains a hero in the eyes of the Sunderland fans.

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