5. Thomas Sorensen - £1m from OB Odense
Break the clean sheet record in your debut season? Check. Save a penalty against your local rivals and become a cult hero? Check. Take over from Peter Schmeichel as your nation’s number one in the process? Check - and all for a flimsy £1 million pounds.
Tommy wasn’t just the safe pair of hands that was needed following Lionel Perez’s unsuccessful spell as Peter Reid’s first choice, but one of the best young stoppers in the game and with Sunderland, he grew into a fine goalkeeper who went from strength to strength.
After leaving the club, he continued to be number one for Stoke City and Aston Villa in the Premiership and played into his 40’s such was his ability as a ‘keeper - and we managed to get his best years, all for a minimal fee.
4. Kevin Ball - £300k from Portsmouth
What a signing this bloke turned out to be. So he may not have had the silky skills of Stephane Sessegnon, but Bally had the heart of a lion and never once left the pitch without giving everything he had for the cause.
Solid in the tackle, a good passer of the ball and the best leader the club has known, Bally gave over ten years of service as a player to Sunderland and has continued that service since his retirement across a number of roles.
There’ll never be another like Kevin Ball, and especially not for a measly £300k.
3. Marco Gabbiadini - £80k from York City
One of only a handful of players who managed to score goals for the club across the top three tiers of English football, Denis Smith’s star signing is quite rightly looked on as a Sunderland legend.
The star of our romp to the Second Division title, Marco is perhaps best remembered for inciting 5000 Newcastle fans to collectively spit out their dummies when he buried the winner in the bottom corner during the Play-off semi-final at St. James, one of 73 goals he scored over his five year spell on Roker.
Oh - and we also made just over £1.7m in profit on him. Not bad!
2. Jermain Defoe - Swap deal from Toronto FC
Lee Congerton was really sh** at his job, but you can never deny that his ability to convince Toronto to swap one of the best strikers the Premier League has seen for one of the worst left us all genuinely gobsmacked.
I think we all expected the goals to come, but nobody could have foreseen the tears, the connection and the love that he’d end up having for the club. He’s another that, in many years to come, people will look back at and class as a Sunderland legend.
He left the club with a total of 34 league goals across two and a half seasons, and in comparison the man who went in the opposite direction, Jozy Altidore, managed only one league goal for the club in almost two seasons.
1. Kevin Phillips - £350k from Watford
Who else but SuperKev could be classed as the best bargain of all time? Our all-time Premier League era top goalscorer is perhaps our greatest signing of all time, let alone the best bargain.
Kevin Phillips is the type of buy you hardly ever see now in 2018.
Signed by Peter Reid in the summer of 1997, admittedly most of Wearside greeted his arrival with a stark response of “who?” but by the time he left the club in 2003, he had scored 130 goals for the club, broken club record after club record and is still the only Englishman to ever win the European Golden Boot.