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With Grant Leadbitter set to re-sign for Sunderland today, here are 5 others that did the same

Grant Leadbitter will today join a line of players who went on to re-sign for the club after a period away from Wearside. Here are just five others who, like Grant, made returns - and the success rate is most certainly a mixed bag.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Michael Bridges

The truth is that had it not been for horrendous luck with injuries whilst at Elland Road, he likely would have never been on this list. He was an England international in the making and before injury struck, he was Leeds’ star striker in a team that was fighting it out in the Champions League.

With pace, strength and sublime trickery, Bridges was a player who got you off your feet - something evidenced as soon as he made his debut as a mere 17-year-old, when he took it around three or four Port Vale players before aiming a long range shot inches past the past. The North Shields-born forward was a special talent.

Sadly, as noted above, a succession of injuries hindered his progression and he eventually returned back to the club for a season under Mick McCarthy. Although his return coincided with Sunderland’s return to the Premier League, he didn’t come back quite the same player and was released come the end of the campaign.


Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson

Firstly finding his way to Wearside via a surprise £145k move from West Ham, Pop’s goals would help lead Sunderland back to the top flight as Division Two champions, mainly thanks to a fantastic unbeaten record at Roker Park. The striker was never one to settle at a club for too long though, and headed back to West Ham in 1976.

Bizarrely, Robson would make the move from the Boleyn Ground to Roker again only three years later - his goals once again proving vital as we finished runner’s up in Division Two. He would once again leave though, this time for Carlisle in 1981.

He’s most fondly remembered for his impact on the final day of the 1983/84 season during his third and final spell with Sunderland. Robson was brought into the side at the ripe old age of 38 and with the Lads needing a win, the stage was set for “Pop” as he went on to score his final goal in Sunderland colours in a 2-0 win to save the club from relegation.

Sunderland AFC

Paul Bracewell

Much like ‘Pop’ Robson before him, Brace was another player who was supremely talented, but just couldn’t keep away from Wearside.

Joining the club in 1983, Bracewell’s first season at the club was an unsuccessful one for the club and saw manager Alan Durban sacked come season end, with incoming manager Len Ashurst allowing the midfielder to join Everton for just under £500k.

His move to the Toffees would prove to be his most successful of his career, winning silverware alongside soon to be Sunderland manager Peter Reid. His form at Goodison Park also yielded England caps and he only narrowly missed out on a place in the 1986 World Cup squad.

He eventually found his way back to Roker though, with his second spell at the club perhaps his best, playing 113 times between 1989 and 1992, appearing in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool and helping us towards promotion to Division One.

He blotted his copy book by moving to arch rivals Newcastle in 1992, but true to form, he came back as player/assistant manager in 1995, as former team-mate Peter Reid brought him back. He enjoyed a further promotion in 1996.

Marco Gabbiadini of Derby (left) out strides Paul Bracewell of Sunderland

Fabio Borini

Perhaps a perfect example of why you shouldn’t pine for a former love - the little Italian was universally loved at the Stadium of Light during his initial loan spell, and it was no surprise that we bid almost our entire transfer kitty on signing him in the summer of 2014/15.

Sadly for us, that bid created a year-long pursuit of a player who deep down wanted to be a success at Anfield, and maybe even saw Sunderland as a little below him.

After a year of warming the bench at Liverpool, Borini finally realised what he should have done a year previous - he wasn’t wanted at Anfield. That realisation coincided with a last minute Lee Congerton panic and, before you knew it, Fabio was holding up the number nine shirt in front of the Academy of Light.

Within months, Dick Advocaat (the man who had bought him) was gone and was replaced by Sam Allardyce, who immediately chased the likes of Andre Ayew - making it clear he didn’t really fancy the former Chelsea youngster.

Although he did break into the first team picture come our standard end of season great escape, Borini’s move back to Wearside was already shrouded in doubt and come the following season, the love affair with the Italian was long gone.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Capital One Cup Quarter-Final Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

George McCartney

Poor old Ringo. He went from being a well respected, former player of the year to a bit of a comedy figure.

Coming through our academy, the Northern Irishman was a steady, pacey young left-back that built up an excellent partnership with cult-hero Julio Arca during the Mick McCarthy years.

Unfortunately, following promotion, George suffered an almost season-long injury and by the time he had returned to first team duties, we were pretty much relegated and the manager that had so much faith in him, Mick McCarthy, had been sacked.

With his stock still fairly high, Premier League club West Ham offered us a Mars Bar and Clive Clarke in exchange and, bizarrely, we accepted.

Following a successful period in London - and with everything looking much rosier on Wearside - the full-back was purchased for a massively inflated £6m, but on his return to the Stadium of Light it appeared we had been duped, as this was a VERY different version of George. It looked like him... but minus the speed and any of his previous ability.

After a period of being absolutely terrible, McCartney returned to West Ham before seemingly retiring in 2014 after a succession of injuries.

Brighton And Hove Albion v Sunderland Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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