The prospect of being visited by Birmingham City this weekend conjures up memories of a center-forward that we barely saw play - but his only goal for the club came in a 2-0 win over the Blues on a freezing cold Tuesday night in January 2008.
The man of that moment was Rade Prica.
Signed from Aalborg in 2008 for £2 million by Roy Keane, Prica brought with him a fairly decent scoring record (albeit in a division not many of us know a great deal about) and was handed his debut when he replaced Dwight Yorke at halftime with the score at 1-0 thanks to a Daryl Murphy strike.
Remember that side? Nyron and Jonny Evans at the back? Heady times indeed. At a time when we had Yorke and Andy Cole in the squad, the then 28-year-old Prica must have felt like he was back in the late 1990’s (unfortunately, of course, we had the legendary Man United pair ten years after their prime).
I remember being at the game and thinking ‘ah, great, a fresh pair of legs to finish the game off, fantastic,’ and that’s pretty much the role he served - but it was to be the first and last time I could say this. The goal he bagged was a gift from the visitors and he wouldn’t have scored an easier one if he had managed to score anymore at all.
He put the graft in that night, and he could have had a second if it wasn’t ruled out for a handball. Prica was never really given a good run in the side after that, and only made substitute appearances for the remainder of his time on Wearside; he was unable to get in ahead of the formidable Kenwyne Jones, as well as Anthony Stokes and Daryl Murphy.
A few days later, at Anfield, Prica came on as a substitute only to be then substituted himself such was the poor level of his performance, a disappointment which saw him never start another game in red and white.
The spell at Sunderland must have done something good, though, as he went on to bag 81 goals in 164 matches during his spells with Rosenborg and Maccabi Tel Aviv. This is prolific regardless of division, and it would have been interesting to see him turn out for us in a slightly less demanding league - such as the Championship.
This match came at a time when we were actually quite hard to beat at home (feels like a lifetime away now, I know) and many a team came to Wearside only to be turned over by Roy Keane’s unfashionable yet practical side.
If you want a contrast to show how much worse things are now compared to then, that victory over Birmingham was our fourth home win in six matches. Who amongst us would take that kind of home form right about now?
Here’s hoping we can channel the spontaneous, short-lived success of our one-start wonder and turn over the Blues once again!