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Forgotten Black Cats: Michael Reddy

Michael Reddy burst onto the scene with an impressive debut against Aston Villa - so impressive that it prompted Peter Reid into hyping up the young Irishman as one of the biggest talents he had ever worked with.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

He is the most exciting young player I have come across as a manager. He has every chance of making it as a top class footballer. He is able to do something that excites people. He showed at Wimbledon that he has the ability to go past people.

Michael Reddy's only league goal for Sunderland though was an equaliser against this weekend’s opposition Middlesbrough, so this week’s entry seemed only appropriate. The Irishman's rise to the top was quite simply a product of raw talent being given a chance.

The story of Reddy's journey from Graiguenamanagh to the Premiership began a few years before he signed up for Reidy, when Kilkenny City manager Jim Rhatigan spotted him playing for Grennan College in Thomastown, which was a team managed by Reddy’s own mother. After a solid performance for his local side, he was invited to play for Kilkenny City in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland’s youth side, but despite the game being abandoned due to bad weather, their manager Alfie Halesaw saw enough to give him a contract.

His first nine games in the Irish League yielded four goals as his blistering pace gave teams nightmares - he also won a number of penalties and gained plenty of assists as Kilkenny finished the season strongly. Eventually he gained international recognition as he was included in Ireland’s Under-18 squad. Not long after, our Chief Scout Andy King, who had seen such names as Roy Keane as a youngster come through the ranks in Ireland, was given a tip that Reddy was a one to watch. After a summer trail, Bob Murray parted with thirty-thousand pounds to bring the youngster to the Stadium of Light.

The youngster didn’t take long to make an impression as he netted two goals on his debut for the reserve side against Bolton. By the time September came around, he was appearing on the bench for the first team. He was given his Black Cat bow in a League Cup defeat at Selhurst Park, as we lost in extra time to a dogged Wimbledon team.

Despite the disappointment of defeat, Reddy managed to set up our equalising goal and have a chance cleared off the line, prompting Peter Reid into classing him as "the most exciting talent he’s worked with", praise indeed considering the Scouser had worked with players such as Michael Bridges and Shay Given.

By the time the next league game came around, talk was already about the youngster getting a subs appearance in the Sky televised Monday night game against Aston Villa. With the Lads looking for a killer third goal, Reddy was introduced late on and managed to scrape the bar with a long range effort. However his most memorable moment and sadly his career pinnacle came only a week later.

After an early Chris Makin red card, a backs-to-the-wall performance was required in the first Tees-Wear derby of the season. The Lads, led by a bloody headed Steve Bould, had managed to force out the rampant Teesiders until the 76th minute when Colombian Hamilton Ricard smashed in an opener. Bobby Saxton immediately called over the 19-year-old as we went in search of an equaliser. We didn’t have to wait long.

Within two minutes, Phil Stamp brought down fellow Irishman Niall Quinn in the box and we had a chance to get back on terms with little over ten minutes to play. Kevin Phillips though had his penalty superbly saved by Mark Schwarzer, but Michael Reddy was on hand to smash in the rebound and enhance his growing reputation.

Sadly for Reddy that was as good as it got. Despite staying at the club for a further four years, he only played another eight times as he was farmed out on loan to numerous clubs - an impressive loan spell at Swindon Town resulted in a formal bid being made for his services, only for Peter Reid to quote them a ludicrous £5m.

Eventually he moved on to Grimsby Town in 2004 on a free transfer, where he stayed until a hip injury forced his early retirement at the age of 27. It was a shame considering he had found success at Grimsby, where he scored a total of 26 goals in 70 starts.

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