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Victor Anichebe - The Resurrection Of A Fledgling Career

Sunderland has rather harshly been tagged as a graveyard where footballers come to allow their careers to die - and whilst sadistically there is an element of truth in that, particularly in recent years, it has been somewhat humbling and exciting to watch how much it has meant to Victor Anichebe to be able to come here and resurrect a Premier League career that was dangerously teetering on the edge of oblivion.

Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

That might seem somewhat melodramatic, but it's true. Anichebe didn't have a host of Premier League clubs lining up to win his signature when he was out of contract and out of shape in the summer - offers from abroad and a handful of Championship sides were the only teams that, other than Sunderland, showed any sort of serious interest in the Nigerian forward.

At the age of 28, that must be daunting, particularly when you have spent all of your career as a top-flight footballer. Victor Anichebe would be the first to admit that his scoring record over the ten years since making his professional debut at Everton has not been good enough, and perhaps it is that record that has mattered most when other top-flight clubs were looking at him.

As we have all come to learn, though, it does not tell the full story.

In fact, having a player like a fully-fit, motivated Victor Anichebe in your team is worth at least ten points a season on its own. He's a player that was built for a struggling team that isn't comfortable in possession of the ball. He's the player that Sunderland have been missing for some years now - we just didn't know it.

I have said it time and time again, but the bare minimum that a Sunderland supporter demands is that a player shows that he cares and gives his all each and every time that he steps onto the pitch to represent our football club. There's a reason that players like Nyron Nosworthy and Danny Collins are held in such a high regard by the Sunderland faithful. We love a trier.

Sunderland have won each of the three Premier League games that Anichebe has started on Wearside this season, and it's not difficult to see why.

When you see Victor Anichebe swatting away defenders due to his sheer athleticism and desire in the dying minutes of a game, you can't help but resonate with it. Niall Quinn said it best; a big tackle or a big challenge lifts the roof off the Stadium of Light as much as a goal does - you can now add a Victor Anichebe shoulder-barge to that list.

It's that calibre of player that Sunderland now need to start embracing more regularly. Martin Bain told us that only four of the players we've signed since 2009 have made this club any profit. Short term fixes and big-money signings have been made to, in part, appease a support that demands more than just a relegation battle every year - but scaling back and re-recognising our roots has became imperative, especially considering the financial peril that the club apparently faces. Big money signings like Jeremain Lens might give the support that short term burst of excitement, but in truth it's the wrong type of player that a club like Sunderland need.

Hungry, grounded and humble players will give this club the eventual lift that is requires - and Victor Anichebe slots very handily in to that category. He's not going to down tools and demand a move away, but he'll gives his best effort each time he plays for Sunderland and that is all that we demand.

2017 has the potential to be a huge and hopeful year for Anichebe, amazing when you consider that for much of 2016 he's been a bit-part squad member at West Brom and/or injured. He's realised that being unwanted and out-of-contract just isn't fanciful - he knows that he's better than that.

He knows that he's capable of being worth more to a club - he knows that he's found his place at Sunderland, and that having achieved the love of the supporters he's now got an opportunity to make something of himself after so many years of being under-appreciated and under-used.

Retaining the passion and drive that has gotten him to such a place within the minds of the Sunderland supporters is what is now key - Victor can now only help himself. Keep fit, keep working hard - stay humble, stay positive.

His enthusiasm is infectious. Sunderland, if we are to survive, need to feed off that hunger and desire if we are to tow the line once more.

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