Peter Reid was appointed Sunderland manager 22 years ago at the end of this month. His seven-and-a-half year reign encompassed promotions, a relegation and two top ten Premier League finishes.
Reid is still recalled with fondness in the North East for that period of football on Wearside. His brand of the game brought passion and excitement to Roker Park and the Stadium of Light, and players who could deliver it.
But who did he rate as his 'Best XI' from the lads who played for him at Sunderland? And would those who played for him, agree with his selection? In words captured by Mark Harrison, Reid picked his favourite players from the era and we mashed it up with interviews our Graham has done with Darren Holloway and Alex Rae as well as a feature the Newcastle Chronicle published with Super Kev last year.
Peter Reid's Ultimate Sunderland XI:
Here's the gaffer's thinking behind his selections and who his players would have picked in each position.
The best player I ever played with, across my whole career including England, would be Neville Southall.
For Sunderland I could choose Thomas Sorensen - he was a great shot stopper and is still playing now - a great keeper.
But, Tony Coton when he was fit was the better keeper. He was a great shot stopper and a huge influence and character on the team. He would be my number one.
Alex Rae: Tommy Sorensen
Darren Holloway: Tommy Sorensen
Kevin Phillips: Tommy Sorensen
Chris Makin. You knew what you would get out of him every week. He was a great lad and a reliable player. We had a great dressing room and he was always in the middle of the fun the lads were having.
Alex Rae: Chris Makin
Darren Hollway: Chris Makin
Kevin Phillips: Chris Makin
Michael Gray. I have to go for him - he was a good attacking full-back, not sure about his defensive qualities, but he never got done at the back stick. He handled the football well, though in the final third of the pitch his final pass needed work. I remember the right footer at St James' - not a bad effort. Julio Arca would run him close, mind, but Micky was an ever present.
Alex Rae: Michael Gray
Darren Holloway: Michael Gray
Kevin Phillips: Michael Gray
Steve Bould. His legs were gone but for six months he was tremendous for us and a great signing. He was a real organiser, so underrated. He won so many things and was truly top drawer. His first game was against Chelsea and we lost 4-1 mind.
Andy Melville. He had no pace but he read the game so well. Him and Bould never played together but would have been a great pairing.
Alex Rae: Steve Bould & Andy Melville
Darren Holloway: Steve Bould & Thomas Helmer
Kevin Phillips: Steve Bould & Jody Craddock
Kevin Ball was a leader of men, a touch impulsive at times but when he played in midfield he was more restrained and went into battle for the lads week in week out.
Paul Bracewell. I always thought he would be a great manager, he has been unlucky and I think underrated. He was the best signing I made, probably the best player I worked with and it’s a shame we got him at the end of his career. That said he was amazing for us.
Stefan Schwarz. He knew the game and read it well - he was a fantastic player and oozed class. It was such a shame we lost him to injury and that cut a great career short. Stefan Schwarz was one of those players where you never knew how good he was until you didn't have him. The Achilles injury was a big shame. He was a clever player. We had to change the style when we lost Allan Johnston and I played Schwarz narrow so Micky Gray could bomb down the line.
Nicky Summerbee was a fantastic crosser of the ball, a real attacking outlet for us. His dad was a great player and despite the comparison Nicky showed his class flying down the line and whipping them in.
Alex Rae: Allan Johnston, Gavin McCann, Kevin Ball, Nicky Summerbee
Darren Holloway: Allan Johnston, Gavin McCann, Kevin Ball, Nicky Summerbee
Kevin Phillips: Allan Johnston, Alex Rae, Kevin Ball, Nicky Summerbee
Niall Quinn. Very intelligent and clever, and a strong leader. I played with him and knew what I would get. He ran the dressing room and was an inspiration to the others.
Kevin Phillips. I saw him play for Watford and thought 'who is that pain in the arse player'? He was very niggly and quick, and a real thorn in your side. I knew that George Burley was after him and I fancied him, so I got Bobby Saxton into my office and I knew we had to have him. Kev was a good lad and really good player. If you get thirty goals in the Premier League it tells it's own story.
Alex Rae: Niall Quinn & Kevin Phillips
Darren Holloway: Niall Quinn & Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips: Niall Quinn & (of course) Kevin Phillips