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Why I love Sunderland AFC #15: From Malaysia to Wearside, via a game of Football Manager!

Our latest reader submission for our 'Why I love Sunderland AFC' series comes today from Malaysian fan Naim Ahmad, who fell in love with the club having first heard of us through playing computer games!

Naim Ahmad

Interested in telling YOUR story?

Roker Report are looking for reader submission as part of our ‘Why I love Sunderland AFC’ feature. If you would like to pass on your tale of why you love this club, please email us a piece of no less than 500 words to RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk - we’ll feature the well-written ones here on the site!

My name is Naim Ahmad from Malaysia. My love-affair with Sunderland started when I was introduced to Championship Manager (now Football Manager) by my brother many years ago. I did not have the privilege to know all of the top English clubs when I was young, and only really knew of the big sides and big name players until that point.

I began to search and managed all of the English teams, and because of that I got to learn more about many players, managers, and backroom staff that previously I had been unable to because of the lack of coverage in my country - but there was one particular club that piqued my interest over and over again.

My passion for the game of football grew to become a major part of my life. And it wasn't Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham or Newcastle, who were top teams circa that era, that I fell in love with, but it was Sunderland.

I don’t remember the date I started watching Sunderland games on television, but I do remember it was in 04/05 when I first found out that Sunderland got promoted to Premier League and I was so delighted that my brother bought me that season's Sunderland home kit.

West Ham United v Sunderland Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Sunderland did not attract much publicity in the early 2000's, especially throughout South East Asia - most people here follow the big clubs, but since 2005 the coverage here has been fantastic. Every single Premier League match is televised live or is streamed through the internet, making it far easier for me to follow my club.

I had the opportunity to further my studies in Kent in 2012 and thought that I could find the time to go up to North East to watch one match that involved Sunderland, but because of my tight schedule that year I could not go or even be at The Stadium of Light... but I will definitely one day!

Sunderland are expected to struggle again for survival this season, though I just find it weird that every Premier League relegation scrap has caused me to support my team even more. The Sunderland fans have had every reason to be miserable and downcast in recent years - I feel that experiencing troubling or testing times is what every football fan should go through, because it tests your relationship with the club.

With all the promise of a squad containing an exciting blend of youth and experience, I still have faith for the players or else, to be a champion - we have to fight one more round.

Last but not least, I don’t care. I have fallen in love with the club and I will never leave them, either then or now. Ha'way the lads!