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The SOL Years: This is the top 20 of SAFC players to play less than 25 games for the lads - #5-1

To celebrate 20 years at the Stadium of Light - and to help alleviate some of the boredom of pre-season - Roker Report are looking at the top 20 players to play less than 25 games for the lads in the last two decades. Today, we round off this feature with our final five.

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

Number 5 : Patrice Carteron - 8 apps, 1 goal

Carteron breaks into the top 5 because of the importance of his only goal for Sunderland. Carteron was played in by Hutchison and slotted the ball past Shay Given who was playing the game of his life. Pure carnage ensued in the celebrations: Carteron had instantly made himself a hero in Sunderland and would never have to pay for a pint in the city again.

Added to this Carteron was actually a decent player. We signed him on loan from St Etienne to replace Chris Makin and he filled that void excellently.

Sunderland v Leeds X
Carteron tackling Harry Kewell.

While he may have only played eight games for the lads, he was a modern full back: attacking, skillful but not very good defensively. He even played in our famous 4-2 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, something the whole team can take credit for.

Eventually Peter Reid opted against signing Carteron and instead bought Bernt Haas. Upon reflection I am sure he regrets that decision, because Haas was naff and Carteron scored past the mags but still, Carteron gets in the top 5.


Number 4: Jan Kirchhoff - 23 apps, 0 goals

What a player. I have never loved a German as much. He had everything you would desire in a defensive midfielder: Passing, tackling, anticipation, a cool head, aerial ability and more. Kirchhoff only played for Sunderland for one reason though: he could not avoid injury or last more than 70 minutes at a time. Imagine if Kirchhoff had an engine and legs made of bone, not glass? He would have been beating Xabi Alonso to starts for Bayern Munich.

Kirchhoff had one of the the worst debuts of a Sunderland player ever - Spurs away, he came on at 1-1 to help sure up our back line with us actually going five at the back but proceeded to put a lazy foot out to block a shot, which then deflected all the way into the net. This wasn't enough for him though as he then decided to smash Danny Rose with a tackle in the box to concede a penalty. We ended up losing that game 4-1 and it's fair to say most of us left that day thinking that this guy was useless.

Why did Pep Guardiola sign him!?

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Kirchhoff being stretchered off. Symbolic of his Sunderland career.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

How wrong we were. Once inserted into central midfield, Kirchhoff became the heartbeat of the team. He excelled at everything while making us difficult to beat. He was basically a central defender with all the qualities of Xabi Alonso, meaning he was a third center back while also being a third central midfielder.

He was critical in our survival under Allardyce and if Kirchhoff could have stayed fit last season, maybe we could have pulled off another escape.

With him being a free transfer this summer it will be interesting to see who takes a gamble on the big German.


Number 3: Marcos Alonso - 20 apps, 0 goals

Perhaps the best way to discuss Marcos Alonso and to appreciate how good he was for Sunderland is to look at his achievements this past season at Chelsea. The footballing world scoffed when Chelsea paid around £25 million for the full back, but he showed exactly why with his consistently solid performances for Chelsea.

And to think we could have signed him for around £5 million…

Alonso at Sunderland, though, gave us the left back we had wanted since the days of Micky Gray. He was perfect. Imagine Patrick Van Aanholt but with some defensive capability - that was Alonso. He was a key factor in our survival under Gus Poyet in the 2013-14 season and he endeared himself to everyone with his performances in that year's edition of Sunderland's 'Great Escape'.

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League
Alonso celebrating winning the Premier League this past season. Surely was worth the £5 million...
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Alonso has always spoken wonderfully about the club since his departure:

I only played there for five or six months but really enjoyed my time there and connected from the very first day with the fans. I have great memories from my time there. The Stadium of Light is a great stadium and I have great memories. It’s a very good crowd - I think one of the best in England.

He also had this to say about the cup final:

The fans they enjoyed that day so much. I think even more so than we did. We lost in the end, but their support was amazing - much better than the City fans - and for me, that was very special.

What a fella.


Number 2: Younes Kaboul - 24 apps, 0 goals

Sometimes you sit and wonder why a transfer happens and Sunderland selling Kaboul to Watford this past summer was one of those moments. The club released a half-arsed statement about Kaboul wanting to return to London and we sold him for pretty much what we paid for him, but just a year earlier he was a player not many teams were willing to gamble on. We had a great year with Kaboul and suddenly he has value but then we sell him for the price we paid! Unbelievable.

Kaboul was a great player for Sunderland. Both he and Lamine Kone built a defensive partnership not seen at the club in a long time. They had power, pace, presence and persistence, Kaboul was the experience and Kone was the legs - and boom, we had a defensive three of Kone, Kaboul and Kirchhoff protecting our goal.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League
Younes Kaboul saying hello to the Sunderland fans who adored him. Fortunately he played awful on his return and we actually won a game.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

His finest moment must have been his once-in-a-game surge up the wing which arguably resulted in the cherry on top of the cake in our 3-0 win over the mags at the Stadium of Light. Kaboul became loved amongst Sunderland fans because he had class and ability. Sunderland should have told him no this summer when he asked to leave, and when he did leave we should have commanded a figure north of £10 million.


Number 1 : Steve Bould - 23 apps, 0 goals

I always remember watching the 2000-01 season review video when Michael Gray said he learned more from one year with Steve Bould than he did in his whole career, and I think that speaks volume for the argument of Bould at Sunderland.

Bould - perhaps unfortunately - came to Sunderland after his peak, which probably shows how good his peak was because he was a rock in our defence in the season of 1999-00. Bould was in the mould of Eric Roy, Dwight Yorke and Bolo Zenden, players that were great for us but came after their peak, giving us a glimpse of how class they must have been at their time at the top.

Paulo Wanchope and Steve Bould

Both Bould and Kaboul were one season wonders, but the former Arsenal man gets the nod ahead on this list because he contributed in some way to our greatest season of the Stadium of Light era.

So many players who played with him say he was a class above and so he is my number one player to play less than twenty five games for the lads at the Stadium of Light.