There was something of the "everyman" about Andy Reid. In an age where footballers are total fitness machines, Andy Reid wouldn't have looked out of place downing pre match pints in Fitzgeralds and then getting up at their acoustic open mic night later that evening. When that appearance is blessed with an unbelievable left foot that can control anything and then unlock a defence with it's exquisite passing ability, you have the makings of a cult hero.
After an underwhelming spell at Tottenham Hotspur, Reid made his way to Charlton Athletic where, despite relegation, he regained the form that first made Premier League clubs sit up and take notice of the Irish international.
His fellow countryman Roy Keane had certainly been keeping an eye on him and in January 2008, Keane paid £5 million to bring Reid to the Stadium of Light. Having just been promoted back to the Premier League, Sunderland were still in real danger of falling straight back into the Championship and needed some extra creativity in the midfield. It wouldn't take long for Reid to show his credentials, as he made his debut off the bench against Wigan Athletic. A superbly weighted, cross field pass allowed Daryl Murphy to score a 25 yard howitzer, giving his side a comfortable 2-0 lead. Murphy's goal may have grabbed the headlines but the pass from Reid displayed equally brilliant technique.
There were bigger moments to come from Reid that season though. A 95th minute volley gave The Lads a precious 2-1 win at home to West Ham, the second of three consecutive wins that were vital in keeping us up that season. A floated ball into the box by Carlos Edwards could only be flicked on by West Ham defender (and soon to be Sunderland player) Anton Ferdinand, which allowed the ball to fall kindly onto that left foot. It was a goal that took the roof off but Reid looked just as cool throughout the celebrations as he did when the ball was falling to him.
Despite his physique, he made football look so easy. Spraying the ball out whenever he wanted, he rarely miss placed a pass. That's not to label him as lazy though. After another season of struggle for Sunderland in 2008/09, Reid failed to find the consistency he had shown in since his arrival on Wearside. This galvanised him into hiring a personal trainer in the close season, instead of taking a break, so he could come back to pre season training lighter and raring to go.
Even though the first few games of the season had saw Reid limited to substitute appearances, he still forced his way into the manager's plans after a fine display against Norwich City. Two goals, one of which being a delicious 18 yard chip, earned him a start against Hull City where Reid got Sunderland's second goal in a 4-1 win with a well taken half volley. A few weeks later he played a big part in the 2-2 draw away to Manchester United, executing three one-twos before crossing for Kenwyne Jones to make it 2-1 to Sunderland. Along with Lee Cattermole, Reid ran the midfield in that game in what was arguably Sunderland's best performance of the season.
After the 2009/10 season, Reid's time at Sunderland slowly fizzled out as he joined Blackpool on deadline day in January 2011. After Blackpool's relegation from the Premier League and only five league appearances, Reid went back to where it all began, rejoining Nottingham Forest where he would spend the remainder of his career.
Andy Reid will always be remembered fondly by me. At an away game at Derby County in 2008 people were chanting "Andy Reid, he plays left wing, he loves McDonalds and Burger King", which showed how much we'd embraced his image. While most players played golf, Reid was probably at home learning Johnny Cash songs on his guitar. If you can have the passing ability of Pirlo and first touch of Ronaldo, whilst looking like a friendly nightclub bouncer, then you'll be the kind of player I'll have a soft spot for.
I hope enjoys retirement and immediately starts work on his debut album.