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Roker Roundup: Martin O’Niell talks about being a Sunderland fan & why he joined SAFC in 2011

Former Sunderland manager Martin O’Niell has been talking about growing up as a Sunderland fan and why he eventually became our manager back in 2011.

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Fowler on Sunderland departure

Jack Ross’ former assistant at Sunderland, James Fowler, departed the club last month but rather than follow his former boss to Hibernian, joined Kilmarnock instead.

Fowler was appointed the club’s Head of Football Operations and in his first interview since his appointment was confirmed, said he could not turn down the chance to return to a club where he has legendary status.

He believes both the club and his former manager benefited from his time at the Stadium of Light, with Fowler loving his own experience at Sunderland:

I loved that experience there, the club is huge and the demands are huge.

The club is going through a bit of a transitional period compared to where it used to be which meant there was a lot of work behind the scenes to do.

Speaking to anyone in football they say that you always want to leave a football club in a better place than you found it.

I think Jack did that, he is an excellent coach and someone who I think is going to do really well in the game.

I loved living in the North East of England, but the lure of coming back to Kilmarnock was too much and I felt the time was right to take this opportunity.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Turf Moor Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

O’Neill discusses Sunderland arrival

Martin O’Neill appeared on the ‘A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers’ podcast this week to chat with Eamonn Holmes about his long career in football.

During the discussion, Holmes brought up that O’Neill’s choices of which clubs to managed seemed sentimental more than anything, a point the former Republic of Ireland manager agreed with.

O’Neill explained that the dream of taking Sunderland to the top and how he imagined them to be when he supported them in his youth was just too big of an opportunity:

I definitely have that, there’s no doubt, there’s a romanticism attached to my choice of football club at times.

I was growing up as a kid, don’t know where it came from probably because Charlie Hurley played for them, I was a big Sunderland fanatic.

So I went to Sunderland as a manager based on this romantic notion of where Sunderland were based, the crowds that they got at the old stadium, which was Roker Park.

They’d not moved to the Stadium of Light when I was up there [as a fan].

This idea that ‘do you want Sunderland to be all the things when you were supporting them’ that they never were.

He went on to reveal that he put absolutely no thought into joining either Sunderland or Celtic, with his love of both clubs being the overriding factor:

There was no cold thinking at all going into the Sunderland decision and absolutely none going into Celtic.

You can listen to the full podcast with Martin O’Neill by pressing play on the audio player below.

FBL-ENG-PR-SUNDERLAND-MAN UTD Photo credit should read GRAHAM STUART/AFP via Getty Images