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SAFC Greatest XI of home-grown talent - who makes our squad?

In a season where Jordan Pickford, George Honeyman, Cali-Mackem Lynden Gooch and Duncan Watmore have all featured heavily, we got to thinking: what’s the best homegrown XI we’ve ever produced?

Sunderland v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

GK: 1 - Jimmy Montgomery

No contest really. A local lad who won the FA Cup with the Lads back in 1973, Jimmy is responsible for one of the most iconic moments in Wearside history. That aside, he’s also made more appearances for the club than any other player, so to say Monty is anything other than one of the greatest homegrown players we’ve ever produced would surely be a ginormous understatement. Between the sticks, it has to be him.


RB: 2 - Barry Venison

Perhaps a controversial choice for his Newcastle roots, but you’d be hard pushed to find another right back that went on to play for England and captain the club in a Wembley final. Venison was a canny player if truth be told, although a series of questionable hairstyles has certainly taken the sheen off some of his endeavors. In all seriousness, however, Venison was an exciting young talent who went on to have a fantastic career - even if part of it was sadly spent on the wrong side of the water.

CB: 5 - Shaun Elliott

Shaun Elliott was a fantastic centre half - if it wasn’t for a horrific Graeme Souness challenge, the Haltwhistle-born defender would surely have gone on to be one of the top central defenders in the league at that time. An excellent partnership alongside Jeff Clarke meant we remember him as fondly as almost any other defender to have graced the club with their presence. Underrated, but superb nonetheless.

CB: 6 - Colin Todd

Another that went on to play for England, with 27 caps for the national side. A player who made his debut replacing Jim Baxter, "Toddy" was famously signed by the great Brian Clough, where he went on to become a title winner at the Baseball Ground. Undoubtedly one of the best talents we’ve unearthed.

LB: 3 - Mickey Gray

One of the great successes from our 90’s youth squad, Mickey was a key component in one of the most hard working and successful Sunderland teams of the last fifty years or so. It does seem somewhat strange that he only picked up three caps for the Three Lions, and it would be fair to say he perhaps deserved more. His partnership with Allan Johnston was quite simply breathtaking and Mickey fully deserves his place in our team.

Martin Smith of Sheffield United

RW: 7 - Martin Smith

Someone who perhaps never quite fulfilled the potential he had, Smithy was a genuine talent with a ton of quality in an era when we had little of either. Scoring a free kick on his debut against Luton, the Son of Pele went on to score crucial goals that kept the club in the First Division before having a hand in two promotion campaigns under Peter Reid. Perhaps unlucky not have played more, but still fully deserving of a place in this team due to sheer talent alone.

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

CM: 4 - Jordan Henderson

Those who went to watch the reserves on a regular basis back when Jordan Henderson was a part of the team would often mention the likes of Jack Colback and Martin Waghorn, so when a lanky right winger was brought into the team by Steve Bruce and was gradually shifted further infield, it raised a few eyebrows. Henderson went from strength to strength before securing a big money move to Liverpool where the energetic midfielder now captains his club, and occasionally his country. Jordan Henderson is seen as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League right now, and certainly deserves a place in our homegrown XI.

CM: 8 - Stan Anderson

Making his debut in 1955, the Horden-born England international regularly played in the middle of the park - or as a wing half - for us for eleven years. Although he never actually managed any game time, Stan was also chosen for the 1962 World Cup in Chile. A player known for being very good on the ball, he also had a fierce shot on him and was known for scoring long range strikes in his time. Interesting fact: Stand captained all three of the big North-East clubs.

Photo from

LW: 11 - Raich Carter

The hardest part of picking our famous former captain is where to place him in a modern day 4-4-2 formation, the easiest part was deciding whether or not to include him. A bona-fide club legend, Cater was the youngest ever captain of a title winning side in 1936, and he followed that up by scoring in, and winning, the 1937 FA Cup with a 3-1 win over Preston North End. Carter is an absolute legend, and is a must have in this side.

CF: 10 - Gary Rowell

Still regularly chanted about on the terraces, anyone who scores a hat trick at St. James’ against Newcastle more than earns his place in this eleven. The Seaham-born forward was lethal on his day; he scored 102 goals over his career at Roker Park - which was a record until Kevin Phillips came along. He was voted Sunderland all time cult-hero by Football Focus back in 2006 and continues to be remembered fondly by the fans who watched him.

CF: 9 - Bobby Gurney

Bobby Gurney came from a family of miners, but whilst they were busy down the pits, he was scoring goals at Roker Park - 228 to be exact! That tally means, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is the highest goal scorer of all time on Wearside. Like Carter, he scored in our 3-1 1937 FA Cup Final triumph and interestingly he never played for any club other than ourselves. Scoring ten - yes ten - hat tricks in his time at the club he was quite simply prolific and takes the number 9 shirt.

And there you have it, the SAFC Homegrown XI; let us know what you think about our selection, and whether you would sub any players in for those selected!

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