Jason Steele has signed for Sunderland from Blackburn Rovers. The 26-year-old Newton Aycliffe-born goalkeeper becomes Simon Grayson’s sixth signing so far this summer on a four year deal.
The County Durham lad is a product of the Middlesbrough youth system, signing a professional contract in 2009. An impressive loan spell at Northampton followed before Steele earned his professional debut at the ‘Boro in 2010 at the age of 20.
The 6ft 2in stopper became Tony Mowbray’s first choice goalie during 2011-12, going on to win Young Player of the Year.
The following season, Steele earned the North East Football Writers' Young Player of the Year gong but found his opportunities increasingly limited on Teesside after the departure of Mowbray.
In September 2014 he moved on loan to Blackburn after making over 130 appearances for Middlesbrough, signing permanently at Ewood Park three months later.
Steele has represented England at youth levels and made seven appearances for the Under-21s. He also played in goal for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.
Making over 100 appearances for Blackburn since he joined, Steele was a regular in Rovers' relegation campaign last term keeping just 5 clean sheets in 41 league outings.
Injured in April, the 'keeper was unable to reclaim the no. 1 jersey from David Raya upon his return to fitness.
The Spaniard staked a strong claim for a starting berth this season ahead of Steele by aiding Blackburn to a five-game unbeaten run at the end of last term which was ultimately insufficient for Rovers to beat the drop.
Supposedly earning £6,000 a week at Blackburn, Steele would have taken home one of Rovers' bigger wages in League One.
So, what to make of this signing? We spoke to a couple of fans from Blackburn site RoversChat to find out what we're getting. First up, editor and writer Daniel:
Jason Steele used to be a decent goalkeeper. When he joined on loan, he had a very good spell and that's why we signed him. However, especially last season, his form dropped off and he started to cost us points - like Brighton at home when he dropped the ball straight to Glenn Murray who punished him.
Towards the end of the season, he tailed off further and injured his foot at home to Barnsley. Once he was out of the team, David Raya came in and played very well. Steele is now number two.
His main strength was his biggest weakness. He used to be very poor with his kicking, but it improved with time and he got an assist at home to Wigan (search Blackburn 0-1 Wigan). His weakness is definitely his handling.
Jason’s attitude with the fans was great. He always stopped for them and some supporters will be sad to see him go. He showed passion for the team at times but really lacked confidence last season and looked scared to play.
Rovers fans mainly won't be that bothered as it's £500k for a second choice 'keeper.
And for good measure, another view from RoversChat writer and contributor Tom Schofield:
I personally think he's a decent keeper, given undeserved criticism at times last season. He is prone to making errors, but I found him to be a great shot stopper.
His confidence took a hit for us last season, given how bad we were. In front of a strong defence I think he'd be good. Main criticism I have for him is his decision making, at times it's that which leads to his errors rather than his shot-stopping ability.
I do think it's good business for us though. Raya is as good as him and a product of our academy. It's probably a good deal for both parties tbh. For the reported £500k you're getting a decent championship keeper and we can reinvest in rebuilding the team.