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Player Of The Last Ten Years Poll, Round One: Simon Mignolet Vs Marcus Stewart

Will the sadness of seeing Mignolet leave recently put a few people off, or will all that be forgotten? Still, Marcus Stewart provided a heck of a lot of goals and some very memorable moments. Who wins? You decide!

Stu Forster

Simon Mignolet

Thrust into the Premier League spotlight on the opening day of his first season at the club, Simon Mignolet is one of the finer examples of a young player capitalising on opportunity.

As Craig Gordon's injuries slowly rotted a once promising playing career, a young Belgian prospect quickly showcased his shot-stopping ability, steadily reassuring Sunderland fans that had watched the likes of Kelvin Davis and Ben Alnwick in recent seasons.

Whilst reservations remained after an encouraging first season - which was to be expected despite a high number of first-teams comparative to his age - Mignolet's game blossomed with more exposure. Again thrown in, this time with a protective facemask, Mignolet's performance against Manchester City on New Year's Day in 2011 highlighted his mental strength; not only to play with such discomfort but the sheer bloody-mindedness not to concede. He did not look back.

Such is the nature of being a Sunderland goalkeeper, there are numerous stand-out saves that Mignolet has made, but his penalty save against Newcastle United etched him in Tyne-Wear folklore in the same way it did Thomas Sorensen. However, Mignolet's final season at the club propelled him to a level above the Dane, establishing him as Sunderland's finest keeper of the era in question. (KJ)

Marcus Stewart

Marcus Stewart remains a figure on Wearside whose name is still somewhat tarnished due to his association with Tore Andre Flo courtesy of Peter Reid's £10m transfer for the striking duo back in August of 2002, a grossly unfair perception given his overall contribution at the club, especially in comparison to that of the blundering Norwegian numpty.

Sure, Stewart's Sunderland career got off to a slow start. Reid was given the boot just a few short months after the forwards arrival and his replacement, Howard Wilkinson, well the less said about that period in Sunderland's history the better.

Wilkinson's replacement, Mick McCarthy, did Stewart's career on Wearside no real favours either, initially opting for a formidable strike force of Kevin Kyle and Michael Proctor, overlooking the former Huddersfield and Ipswich hotshot completely at the beginning of the 03/04 term. However McCarthy would eventually see the error of his ways and install Stewart alongside the burly Scot, Kyle.

Having been finally given his opportunity, Stewart wasted no time in doing what he did best, scoring goals. Fourteen league goals from twenty-eight appearances in fact. Kyle and Stewart's homage to the famous Quinn and Phillips partnership worked wonders and turned around the clubs fortunes that season which ultimately lead in play-off heartbreak against Crystal Palace and also an FA Cup Semi Final. Cheers to Jeff and Tim respectively there...

However the following year Sunderland would run riot in the Championship and Stewart would again be vital to the side's success, notching sixteen goals playing alongside Stephen Elliott.

Stewart is probably most fondly remembered on Wearside for his goal against Wigan at the JJB in front of an incredible eight-thousand travelling fans which helped secure Sunderland's return to the top flight.

Stewart's endeavours at the club should be held in even higher regard given his exploits coincided with such a poor period in our recent history. To look as comfortable in the penalty area and manage the number of goals he did in that side is nothing short of incredible really.

Vote for Marcus, he didn't ditch us like a certain Belgian. (DB)


Be sure to make your vote count and send one of these two through to the next round. Make your voice heard below, because you only have until 11pm (GMT) tonight to get your vote in...

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