10 - Marton Fulop
When Marton Fulop fell ill and died late last year it came as a huge shock to the many Sunderland fans that had seen him play for us only a few years ago. Fulop - a towering and capable shot stopper - was brought to the club from White Hart Lane by Roy Keane as part of the deal which saw Ben Alnwick go the other way, and he was an important squad player at Sunderland, providing competition for Craig Gordon up until he left in 2010.
Although Fulop wasn't necessarily a regular at Sunderland he was a thoroughly decent number two and he provided a number of match-winning performances, namely away to Leicester in the title winning 2006/2007 season.
When Fulop left the club it came as a huge relief to those of us in the Sunderland internet community that had grown tired of the countless 'who is better, Gordon or Fulop?' debates on Ready To Go. Nobody enjoyed those threads. Nobody.
9 - Phil Gray
'Ole, Ole Ole Ole, Phil Gray, Phil Gray...'
You wouldn't expect someone called Phil Gray to be a particularly classy footballer - more a hustle and bustle type, perhaps - but he was. Gray had a lovely touch, controlled a ball superbly with his chest and, despite playing in some rather awful Sunderland sides, he scored his fair share, notching forty-one goals in all competitions in his three years at the club. He was by no means a world beater - and perhaps could have been far better than he actually was - but he did a decent enough job in the pre-Peter Reid era.
Having come through the youth setup at Tottenham Hotspur he played sparingly before heading to Luton Town, where he made a name for himself before Terry Butcher splashed out eight-hundred thousand pounds to bring him to Roker Park.
Watch below as Gray scores two away to West Brom (not three as the commentator might have suggested - the first was a tap in from Martin Smith) including a lovely chip from just inside the box.
8. Alan Hutton
You know, I'd almost forgotten about Alan Hutton ever playing for Sunderland until I saw him line up against us for Villa the other week. Strange, really, as it's easy to forget just how good a player he was for us during that loan spell under Steve Bruce.
Despite not being blessed with an abundance of pace or skill, Hutton had this unwitting ability to jink his way past players on the wing and his overlapping runs were a joy to watch, particularly in home games.
Although Hutton became a firm crowd favourite at Sunderland during his short time here, the club were unwilling to meet the demands of the infamous Daniel Levy, and Hutton returned back to White Hart Lane where he became a part of their first team until being eventually replaced by Kyle Walker.
I'll always view the fact we were unable to hold on to Hutton as a massive shame, especially considering the way his career has plummeted since. He felt like the right fit for the club at the time, and he was enjoying his football. Oh well.
7. Younes Kaboul
Although Kaboul only joined our club in the summer, and has suffered a number of injury setbacks since, I can't help but warm to him and I feel that if we can find a way to manage his issues we may well have a long term replacement for John O'Shea on our hands.
Kaboul has had two spells at Spurs, and in his second he enjoyed a term as their club captain. Had he not been afflicted with so many injury problems throughout his career I can only imagine that he'd have played at the very highest level, and would likely have earned more than the five caps he already has for France.
For me, Kaboul edges ahead of Fulop, Gray and Hutton purely for that cross which led to Steven Fletcher's volley against Newcastle earlier in the season - I'd screamed 'PASS IT' for a good five seconds before it left his foot.
He made me look a right tit.
6. Chris Waddle
Anyone who has watched the 'Premier Passions' documentary will have seen the footage from the day that Sunderland signed Chris Waddle, and the fans were far from convinced that he had anything left in the tank in order to help stave off relegation back in 1997.
Unfortunately for us, we only caught the tail end of the career of one of England's greatest ever players.
Unknown to some, Waddle is a Sunderland fan, and was a player our club passed up signing as a boy.
After eventually ending up at Newcastle, he was sold to Tottenham in 1985 and it was from there that his career really took off. Waddle became an integral part of the England team that reached the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1986, coming off the bench in the infamous 'hand of God' game against Argentina.
By the time he eventually ended up at Sunderland he was most definitely winding down his career. That said, it didn't prevent him from banging in a free kick in the last ever league game at Roker Park - a 3-0 win over Everton.
5. Andy Reid
Despite not enjoying the best of spells at Spurs - staying in North London for only eighteen months or so - Reid went on to reinvent himself at Charlton Athletic, and his standout performances for the Addicks in the Championship led to Roy Keane gambling on his signing on deadline day of the 2008 January window.
Lets make no bones about it - Reid struggled with his weight when a Sunderland player, and has done throughout his career. His appearance doesn't fit that of your typical Premier League footballer, but his talent was unquestionable. Reid's first touch of the ball as a Sunderland player was an unbelievable cross field pass to Daryl Murphy to set up the Irish forward's greatest ever goal, a long range strike against Wigan Athletic which secured all three points for us that day.
Reid was a maverick - like Adam Johnson, perhaps - and players of his type don't come around very often. It's a shame he wasn't a bigger (pardon the pun) player for us, but such is life. His contribution towards the end of his debut season - in particular a last minute volley which won us the game against West Ham - aided our survival, and helped to secure our status as a top flight club.
4. Danny Rose
What I'd give to have him back now.
Rose - effective both offensively and defensively - was a stand-out performer under Martin O'Neill and Paolo Di Canio in the 2012-2013 season and it's a crying shame that he was never vigorously pursued by the club once he left, instead going on to become a regular at Tottenham as their first choice left back once his loan deal at Sunderland expired.
He was particularly brilliant in the first 3-0 at St James Park, bossing the left hand side of the pitch that day by keeping Mathieu Debuchy in check.
I'm still holding out the hope that he'll come back eventually, but it looks unlikely - sometimes, it's just not meant to be.
3. Jermain Defoe
Not arsed they're signing Defoe. Be surprised if he scores more than 5 this season. Waste of money.— Sam Gibson (@NuFc_Sam) January 14, 2015
Heh heh heh heh.
2. Darren Bent
Although it would be an understatement to say that pretty much every Sunderland fan in existence loves to hate Darren Bent we'd be doing him a massive disservice if we didn't properly recognise just how bloody brilliant he was as a Sunderland player. Having gone through a plethora of bang average strikers since Kevin Phillips left the club it was an absolute pleasure going to watch Sunderland play every week knowing we had a forward capable of scoring against just about any one. Bent, in short, was class.
Rather than feeling angry about the way things went with Bent I view it with a tinge of sadness - it's definitely a case of 'what if', when it comes to him. Had the club resisted the temptation of an utterly ludicrous offer from Aston Villa for his services it's impossible to know just how vital to our recent history Darren could have become - instead of being content with where he was and the respect he had earned from the Sunderland fans, Bent had his head turned by the prospect of better wages, and a better chance of playing for his country.
Despite heading towards legend status at Sunderland, he scuttled off to the Midlands under a cloud, with his career rapidly headed down the pan. He's never quite been the same since, now plying his trade in the Championship with Derby County having bounced around a few second tier clubs on loan over the last three years. When you consider that someone paid twenty-four million pounds just five years ago, that's some come down.
1. Steed Malbranque
Although Steed wasn't a particularly prolific scorer or creator of goals it was almost impossible not to love him. From his weird sliding tackles, to him leaving four Liverpool players on their arses with one move, he was one of the most naturally gifted footballers to have ever played for Sunderland.
Sometimes you watch a player and think that it's worth the entrance fee alone just to see what they do with the ball. In recent years we've seen the likes of Stephane Sessegnon, Darren Bent and Simon Mignolet fall into that bracket, yet none of them come close to Steed Malbranque in my opinion.
He was capable of things with the ball at his feet that would make Lionel Messi blush - yet, almost five years ago, he was deemed surplus to requirements by Steve Bruce, and was quickly ushered out of the club in order to cut wage costs.
Five years on, he's still doing the biz for Lyon and has played Champions League football this season. The mind boggles.
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