GK: Thomas Sorensen (Denmark - 2002)
Sorensen had to play second in command to Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel for Euro 2000, but come the World Cup in South Korea/Japan the big Danish stopper had established himself as an integral part of Morten Olsen’s squad.
He had a superb opening to the tournament as Denmark progressed from a tough group - beating reigning champions France and Uruguay to top the table ahead of surprise package Senegal, in turn setting up a clash with Sven Goran-Eriksson’s England.
His tournament would end in heartbreak, though, as he fumbled a Rio Ferdinand header into his own net in the fifth minute, allowing a Micheal Owen inspired England an early advantage in a game they went on to lose 3-0.
CB: Stan Anderson (England - 1962)
We’ve had to cheat a little bit here, as local lad Stan was prominently a central midfielder, but he makes our side by virtue of being able to play right half - and he’s also the stand alone Englishman to appear in our side.
County Durham-born Stan sadly never actually made in onto the pitch for the Three Lions in Chile as Walter Winterbottom’s side waved goodbye to their World Cup dreams in the knockout stages, losing 3-1 to Brazil.
Unfortunately for Stan, he never made the squad four years later and didn’t get much of a look in under Alf Ramsay as we went on to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966.
CB: Paulo Da Silva (Paraguay - 2010)
Da Silva never really got going on Wearside after joining from Mexican outfit Toluca.
Despite this, he was a regular in a rather good Paraguay side along with new Sunderland signing Cristian Riveros. Although the line in the song declared he was “captain of his country” he, in fact, wasn’t during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, on the whole he did do quite well, starting in each of Los Guaraníes La Albirroja’s matches as they marched all the way to the Quarter Finals, before eventually succumbing to a late David Villa goal as his side lost 1-0 to Spain.
Paraguay notably only conceded twice in the entire competition, and despite the impressive World Cup his own fortunes on Wearside didn’t change as he featured only three more times in red and white before leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.
CB: John Mensah (Ghana - 2010)
After an impressive first season on Wearside, our favourite centre half ventured to the biggest tournament on the planet with not only the full backing of his nation but the people of Wearside too.
Despite being made of Rizla papers, big John managed to compete in each of Ghana’s matches as they embarked on a memorable campaign, one that saw them miss out on the semi-final due to a heartbreaking last minute penalty miss from none other than Asamoah Gyan. The game went to penalties, and sadly for Mensah and co they fell short having effectively been cheated out of a place in the final four by a Luis Suarez handball on the line.
The unfortunate Mensah was one of three Ghana players to miss a spot kick as Suarez and Uruguay marched into the semis at their expense.
He did return to Sunderland the following season on another season long loan deal, but his injury woes only increased and he barely featured as we finished in tenth (Steve Bruce was manager, yinna).
RM: Billy Bingham (Northern Ireland - 1958)
The 1958 World Cup was the only time that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have qualified for the same tournament. It was also Northern Ireland’s debut on the grand stage and with it the world saw the speedy, Belfast-born inside right known as Billy Bingham feature as part of Peter Docherty’s squad for the finals in Sweden.
Bingham had become a popular figure at Sunderland during the early 50s, and he carried his good club form to Scandinavia as a team that included the likes of Tottenham’s Danny Blanchflower took on Argentina and West Germany before Just Fontaine’s (top scorer at the competition with 13) France sent the Irishmen packing in the quarter finals.
CM: Ki Sung-Yeung (South Korea - 2014)
Although not officially ours, the talented Korean playmaker was registered as a Sunderland player when he turned up to the World Cup in Brazil looking fit as a fiddle, despite limping out of Sunderland’s great escape with a whimper.
His poor end of season continued into the group stages of the tournament though as South Korea tumbled out of Group H with one measly point. The former Celtic man started each of the former semi-finalists games against Belgium (0-1), Algeria (2-4) and Russia (1-1).
CM: Claudio Reyna (USA - 2002)
A supremely underrated player - the former Rangers man went to the Japan/South Korea finals as the captain of his country and led them on an impressive run all the way to the last eight of the tournament, where only a Michael Ballack goal stopped the outsiders from going further.
Despite missing the first game through injury, the New Jersey native was immediately restored to the starting line-up and completed 90 minutes in each of the USA’s games that followed.
Sadly for ‘Captain America’, his Wearside career would come to an end only months later as his suffered a cruciate ligament injury the following October that ruled him out for the entire season and, following our relegation, he joined Manchester City.
CM: Jason McAteer (Republic of Ireland - 2002)
One of three Sunderland players in the Irish squad, McAteer was a loved man on the Emerald Isle as his scorcher against Holland in the qualifiers was the goal that set them on their way to qualification for the finals of the tournament.
The Birkenhead-born midfielder started each game for a Mick McCarthy side rocked by the departure of captain and talisman Roy Keane. They progressed further than anyone had anticipated as a last minute draw with Germany and a comprehensive win over Saudi Arabia saw them reach the second round of the competition, where they were narrowly beaten by Spain in a pulsating penalty shoot-out.
LM: Kevin Kilbane (Republic of Ireland - 2002)
Ah, ‘Skilla’ - never as bad as people made him out to be, but never as good as we had hoped. However, on the international stage the winger did supremely well and was highly respected as a vital cog in Mick McCarthy’s World Cup squad of 2002.
Kilbane is the third most capped player for the Republic of Ireland, although only four of those came at a major international tournament.
Unfortunately for Kilbane his big moment was also his most memorable for all the wrong reasons, as his - and Ireland’s third - penalty was saved by Spanish legend Iker Casillas and sent them home from the tournament.
CF: Jozy Altidore (USA - 2014)
There was always something lovable about the frankly useless Jozy Altidore wasn’t there?
I remember listing the dates when the Americans were playing during the last World Cup to make sure I could catch a glimpse of good ol’ Jozy falling over his own feet and missing open goals. In true Altidore fashion, though, he even managed to ruin that by getting injured early on in their opening game against Ghana.
Within months his Wearside nightmare was over, allowing a certain Mr Defoe to move in the opposite direction and the rest - as they say - is history.
CF: Niall Quinn (Republic of Ireland - 2002)
I saved the best till last. The former striker, chairman and manager is a living legend here on Wearside, and he’s viewed in the same light in his homeland.
Having already featured in Italia ‘90, Quinny reappeared for the Irish twelve years later in South Korea/Japan but this time as their all-time leading goalscorer at the ripe old age of 36.
Although he was used more sporadically, his time on the pitch resulted in an assist for Ireland’s 92nd minute equalizer against Germany - which was the only goal the German’s conceded up until the final, whilst he also won the foul that resulted in Ireland’s late leveller in the second round against Spain.
After penalty heartache, Niall announced his retirement from international football, amassing 92 caps and 21 goals. He’s still Ireland’s second highest goalscorer of all time - and he’s still absolutely a Sunderland legend.