St Mirren chief discusses Sunderland appointment
St Mirren’s first choice stopper Craig Samson recently called time on his playing career so he could succeed Jimmy Walker as goalkeeping coach at Sunderland.
Samson’s sudden retirement came as a surprise but St Mirren’s chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick says although the move was a big blow, he understands it was too big an opportunity for ‘Sammy’ to pass up:
It’s a big blow Craig going because he’s been one of the best players for the last two seasons but I think we’ve got to look at the big picture.
Craig has got a phenomenal opportunity to join Sunderland, and join Jack. He’s 34, coming up on 35, he’s retiring from football, to take up coaching. We just felt he’s done so much for the club, we let him go to spend time with Jack.
Craig’s been there many years and he’s been one of St Mirren’s greatest ever players. He’s a fantastic guy as well, but as I say, we couldn’t stand in his way.
The manager spoke to Jack and I also spoke to him, and Sammy sat with me and the manager. To be fair to Oran he was fantastic because we could have kept Sammy, but ourselves as a club owe Craig Samson big style.
I can understand the fans’ confusion, I was confused myself when Sammy came and spoke to us.
St Mirren is a family, community club. He’s done fantastic service for us. Even Sammy was going to stay until January or the end of the season, but it’s a massive opportunity for him and his family, and we wish him all the best.
He would have played because that’s his character but we all came to the agreement that it was better for him to go. He’s always wanted to work with Jack and Jack has always spoken about having him on his backroom team. I’d like to think the board, the directors, and everyone at the club is behind Sammy.
Samson’s replacement at St Mirren will be on loan Aberdeen goalkeeper Danny Rogers and he is hoping to make the most of his unexpected opportunity:
I wasn’t expecting Sammy to leave like that but it’s a great opportunity for me now and I’m looking forward to starting against Hearts on Saturday.
I came here with a view to playing and not just sitting on the bench so I’m ready to do my bit for the team. Obviously having the knee injury didn’t help me and then Sammy was probably our best player at the start of the season so I could have no complaints at the time.
But when I came back from injury I felt a lot sharper in training and was making a lot more saves so I thought I was pushing Sammy for a place anyway. But now he’s away it’s opened up for me and I really have to make the most if it.
England under-18s travelled to Spain to take part in a four team tournament with Belgium, Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands and came away victorious after picking up two wins and a draw from their three games.
England drew the first game 2-2 against the Netherlands, in which Bali Mumba was a late substitute but the Sunderland midfielder started the next two games and England beat both Belgium and Ireland 3-1 to win the tournament.
Elliot Embleton was also in action for England at under-20 level as they took on their German and the Czech counterparts.
England were held to a 1-1 draw by the Czech Republic with Embleton an unused substitute but they followed that up with an impressive 2-0 win over Germany, in a game Embleton started in midfield, thanks to goals from the Sunderland linked Joe Willock and Lukas Nmecha.
Finally, Benji Kimpioka was on the score sheet once again but his Sweden side lost 2-1 against Wales.
Kimpioka was in the right place at the right time to sweep home the equaliser on the half-hour mark but Southampton’s Christian Norton won it for the Welsh.
You can see Kimpioka’s goal at 1.20 in the video below.
Concrete interest in Sunderland flop
After starring for Norrkoping this season as they finished second behind Seb Larsson’s AIK, David Moberg Karlsson is in demand.
There has already been reported interest from clubs in the Championship and the Netherlands, but there are rumours of Sparta Prague showing interest and while the forward doesn’t want to discuss individual clubs, he does admit that he would like to leave Norrkoping if the right opportunity arises.
Yes. There is concrete [interest]. If something feels very good for me, I’d love to take the next step. I have also been clear to the club that this is the case. I feel that I had a huge development here in Norrköping and that we have a great team, but I would love to see how far I can go.
I can not comment on individual clubs, it will be wrong if things do not happen. If you still stay, it will be a bit ridiculous. But there are clubs that are interested and it’s great fun. One and a half years ago, I did not sit and talk like this straight away, so that’s why I did not get started and got to play. So it’s fun to mention it.