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Roker Report Meets... Tobias Hysen

Tobias Hysen - son of the famous Liverpool player Glenn Hysen - was a player that Sunderland fans instantly warmed to and, despite only spending a season at the club, he's still a player I'm fond of. I'll even admit, I had his name on the back of my Lonsdale home top that season - so, baring that in mind, it was great for me to be able to speak to him about his time as a Sunderland footballer.

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Hi Tobias, thanks for speaking to us.

You came to Sunderland during an uncertain time, when we didn’t really know which direction the club was going to take on or off the pitch. What was it that sold you on a move to Sunderland, taking all of those things into consideration? Did you always feel that things were going to turn around at the club?

The thing that got me the most interested about Sunderland was the fact the it was a sleeping beauty, if you understand.

A big club that always was gonna come back to the top again. That, and a fantastic training ground - together with the vision from Niall Quinn - made me certain.

Of all of the players that Niall Quinn signed that summer, you perhaps turned out to be the most successful, especially when you consider that Roy Keane made a whole host of changes in personnel when he arrived towards the end of August. What do you think it was about you that Roy liked, considering you played fairly regularly under him?

For me, Mr Keane was always very straight forward about the reasons why you weren't playing. If you're not in the lineup, you weren't good enough on that given day. Simple as that.

As a player you can go two ways, either you work harder or you complain about it. I always tried to do things better. In the end I think he appreciated that. I didn't always agree with him, but it wasn't my place to tell him how to run the team.

On that note, how scary could Keano be when things weren’t going our way on the pitch?

He wasn't the type of manager that came in the dressing room and just went ballistic, sure it happened sometimes, but mostly he was disappointed. But given that after Christmas we almost won every game, I don't really think that was ever a problem. Not for me at least. If he was mad, we probably deserved it.

That Burnley match at the end of the season which won us promotion – although you started the game on the bench, where does that night rank for you in terms of the greatest moments of your career?

That game was a great moment, but we really got rewarded in the following game when Palace beat Derby, I think it was. That's when we got promoted. That day was fantastic.

Personally, I feel you deserve an immense amount of credit for having the balls to accept that you and your family were struggling to settle in the area, and that you needed to move back home despite the prospect of playing in the Premier League. Looking back, do you have any regrets that you never got to play in the English top flight?

I've never had any regrets about that decision - sure, sometimes you think about what could have been, but it wasn't my time.

We had players playing before me in the team already and when Kieran Richardson came in, it made it an easy decision. Given the opportunity to go back home, we thought that was best.

I have to ask – what is it like getting to train and play alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

Zlatan is a great guy. A perfect professional. He's very demanding of his teammates but that also makes us better. I have nothing but respect for him as a person and for what he's achieved in his career.

You recently spent two years playing over in China. What is your take on the astronomical amounts of money that clubs in that country seem to be spending on signing players from European clubs, and do you think that the Chinese league will become a global force?

As long as the Chinese league only allows four foreign players in their squads, it won't be a problem. Players go there for the money. The standard of the league is still far from the top leagues of Europe. Having said that, it will obviously get better if great players keep going there.

There's a great potential for improvement, but it's still a long way to go. And, as long as there's a four foreign players policy, there's only a limited number of players that can go there.

How are things going for you now, are you playing regularly still?

I'm doing well thank you very much, I've just started over back home in Gothenburg again. I'm looking forward to a new season. Hopefully I'll be playing regularly, but with me turning thirty-four in March, that comes down to injuries and fitness. I've been lucky so far in my career, so I hope I'll have a good run of games.

What do you feel makes Sunderland such a unique, special club?

For me it was all about the fans and the atmosphere around game days. I was in the city centre some days when I wasn't involved. Magical!

See, something most players dont tend to do these days is socialise with the Sunderland fans in their own city. Did it help you to familiarise yourself and perhaps get to know the Sunderland supporters?

For me it was more about the experience. I'm first and foremost a football fan that has become a player. I wanted to watch the game as a fan, even though I obviously had to think about my appearance, and had to keep it together a little more!

Finally – and be honest – how do you rate Sunderland’s chances of surviving again this season from relegation?

Looking at the table, without knowing who's playing who, I'm certain you'll make it. I have to believe that. No disrespect to the other clubs, but let's hope you surpass at least Newcastle and Norwich.

Bournemouth might end up chasing points in the end as well. I'm positive Sunderland with scrape through again.

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Thanks again to Tobias for speaking with us. Check him out on Twitter - he's @HysenTobias over there.