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Cult Heroes: Mart Poom

This week's trip down SAFC memory lane sees The Roker Report profile a goal keeper that managed the impossible, a feat that all keeper's dream of but very few achieve, a goal from open play.

The first recorded goal scoring goalkeeper was Manchester City's Charlie Williams who scored with a long boot down field against, who else, but Sunderland in April of 1900.

Since then such greats as Jorge Campos, Rene Higuita and Jose Luis Chilavert have made names for themselves as goal scorers, but more often than not from set pieces. There is something magical in the game of football when the goal keeper strides up the pitch, usually in the dying moments of a game with their side trailing, to attempt to latch onto a corner kick. Which is exactly what this popular Estonian did.

Readers, let me reintroduce you to, Mart Poom.

Mart first joined the lads when the clueless Howard Wilkinson was given permission to bolster his injury ravaged side. With the two Thomas', Sorensen and Mhyre, both sidelined, Wilkinson was only left with the inexperienced Jurgen Macho as a recognised goalkeeper and Poom joined on a two month loan from Derby County in November of 2002.

Mart went on to make four appearences for the Black Cats in the 2002/03 season and did enough to secure a full term move in January of 2003 for a reported £2.5M and usurped the great Dane Sorensen as the club's first choice goalkeeper.

Poom was a massive fan favourite with his previous club Derby, with whom he was the first name on the team sheet since his 1997 transfer. The Estonian made his Derby debut at Old Trafford and was instrumental in a famous 2-1 win for the Rams that day and went on to make one-hundred and forty six appearances. Sunderland fans were quick to see why Poom was such a Derby legend with his impeccable performances as a fantastic shot stopper with a natural ability to command his area.

Mart's Cult Hero status for Sunderland was confirmed on Saturday 20th September 2003 when he returned to Pride Park with his new employers.

In an open game of football both sides were guilty of wasting a number of chances, especially the away side, with Marcus Stewart being particularly wasteful. The game looked destined to end as a stalemate before Derby were to take the lead in the 90th minute when a Valakari corner was swept home by Taylor.

Sunderland seemed confined to a disappointing defeat, but a reprieve was to come from the most unlikely of sources. In a turn of events that would have Hollywood script writers blush with embarrassment the North East side were to win a corner deep into injury time.

Poom took off for the opposition penalty area.

Surely it couldn't happen... could it?

Last week's entrant into the Roker Report Cult Hero Hall of Fame Sean Thornton swung the set piece deep into a crowded penalty area and the Estonian took flight. Poom met the ball with an exquisite, towering, bullet of a header that any number nine would have been proud of and the net rippled. Cue Sunderland's fanatical away following going suitably crazy.

Sunderland Goalkeeper Mart Poom´s great header (via andrekull)

In that one, beautiful moment, Poom's cult status with Sunderland fans was confirmed and I am sure I am not the only Sunderland fan that will never forget that Saturday afternoon when the seemingly impossible became a reality.

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