Piper discusses his move to Sunderland
Matt Piper’s Sunderland career was cut short due to injuries but the retired winger has revealed how he initially did not want to join the club at all.
In a column for FourFourTwo, Piper says the Leicester City sold him to Sunderland behind his back and although he took a liking to Peter Reid, had to threaten the player with being left on the sidelines unless he made the move to the North East due to the Foxes dire financial situation:
We’d been relegated, but everything was going well: I’d got a really good three-year contract, and the club were ringing me throughout the summer telling me that they’d sold the most amount of shirts ever with ‘Piper 29’ on. They were putting me on promotional posters and I was loving life: it felt like they were trying to build the team around me.
But then it got to the first game of the season, and I’d been ill the night before. Matt Elliott was ill too, but Micky (who was manager by this point) thought he could handle it. I could go home and put my feet up – there was bigger and better things coming for me on Monday morning, he said. I thought I’d been called up for England U21s. Buzzing.
Monday morning came. I’ll always remember his start: “You know, Pipes, things happen so quickly in football...” I still thought he was going to tell me that I was in David Platt’s U21s. And then it came: “The club has sold you to Sunderland for £3.5 million.”
I was gobsmacked and told him I didn’t want to leave. I’d been there since I was a kid. I’d only just got in the first team. He told me I deserved better than Division One; to go to the Premier League, express myself and use Sunderland as a stepping stone. “One day you could play for someone like Tottenham” – that’s what he said to me.
To cut a long story short, I went up to Sunderland, met Peter Reid and really liked him. They offered me five times more than what I was on at Leicester – and I said no. I went back to Leicester the next day and Micky Adams was kicking off. He said I wasn’t training until I’d signed with them.
The next day came. “Gordon Strachan’s put a £2.5m offer in from Southampton, and the club have accepted that as well.” How many times did I have to tell him that I didn’t want to leave? I liked Gordon, but not as much as Peter Reid, so I told Southampton no as well. Leicester still weren’t letting me train, and Micky called me back into his office for one final time. It was a big heart to heart – we were on the brink of administration. And then it got personal. “Think of all those people who’ve been here as long as you who’ll lose their jobs.”
That’s what tipped me over the edge. So I went to Sunderland.
You can read the rest of Piper’s column for FourFourTwo HERE.
Dutch duo on Feyenoord link and Sunderland fans
In a lengthy piece on Sunderland in the Dutch publication Voetbal International, Glenn Loovens and Robbin Ruiter discussed Sunderland’s fanatical support.
The duo believe Feyenoord are the only Dutch club that remotely compare to the Sunderland fanbase but are both in awe of the club’s away support and how the fans live and breathe Sunderland:
Loovens: Those clubs have so much in common. I have already had a few times here that people came to me to say that they also regularly visit a game of Feyenoord. The connection is in the ports, I think. Shipmen sail back and forth between Sunderland and Rotterdam. Or they worked on the other side for a while. That creates a bond.
Ruiter: At away games, supporters always take a flag with them, with the Sunderland and Feyenoord logos.
Loovens: They are two very large clubs, where sometimes things go wrong. But people will continue to face adversity. That’s the way it should be, I think. You are a supporter in good times and in bad times. This club has been relegated twice, yet the stands are full. I appreciate that. And then those fans can also still “boo” occasionally.
Ruiter: The inhabitants of Sunderland are constantly working with their club. In the Netherlands you only see people walking in a shirt of the club on match days. Here they do that day in, day out. I think they even sleep in it.
Loovens: Do you know what I find really bizarre? Wherever we play, the outing is full. Always.
Ruiter: In total we have to cover sixteen thousand miles this season in the competition, I read somewhere. And they always follow us in their thousands. Even to Plymouth Argyle. Last year we went by charter flight to such far away games. Now the club is trying to cut costs everywhere. We took a scheduled flight to Plymouth and went back by bus. Then you notice how far it is. An eight hour drive!
And yet all those people. I also found Blackpool impressive. Was a thee and a half hour drive, but still: of the 11,500 men in the stadium there were eight thousand of us. Luckily they did not come for nothing, we won 1-0. People do everything for their club.
They stuff their house full of Sunderland stuff, pocket their savings through them to follow the team. You do not have that in the Netherlands.
Loovens: Well, with a few. In Rotterdam I also know some people who really live for their club. That you step inside their home and think you ended up in a Feyenoord museum. In the Netherlands that is unique, in England you have such people at almost every club.
Here in Sunderland it is extreme. I respect that, but also wonder about it. As fanatical as those people are, as deep as that love goes. As a player, you ultimately experience football differently. We do what we like, but it is also our profession.
Former academy goalkeeper discusses difficult times
After being released by the club in the summer of 2018, Talbot was watching his former Sunderland youth team-mate Jordan Pickford star at the World Cup and thinking how quickly football can change:
He’s playing for England in the quarter-final of a World Cup and I’m in a pub without a club, not playing football, and eating a chicken wrap.
I was just thinking of how football can go.
Talbot was struggling to feature for the under-23 side, which meant he had difficulty being motivated. A problem exacerbated by going home to an empty house with nothing do to:
I felt alone. I had nothing to do, and was getting into bad habits: staying up late, going into training with a couple of hours sleep.
When you’re not playing and you’re just training and you know you’re not going to play… football can be so false. I knew no matter how well I was performing at training – I could train ten times better than the other ‘keeper – I knew I wasn’t going to play.
So it’s hard to get motivated to train.
If you’re training for a year and not playing, it’s not good. You need games to get experience; to challenge yourself.
You don’t know what will happen in a game, whereas in training you always know what drills you’re doing.
I was just going through the motions. It was just hard. It’s hard when you’re not playing.
Then you are going home and you have nothing to do. It’s not a good place. People think you’re living the dream but you’re not.
He did have a spell on loan at Darlington, where he felt he performed well, but in his last game he was sent off in injury time and it was just downhill from there:
I did well at Darlington, personally speaking.
It was just the last game, I got sent off. I’d actually played one of the best games I’d ever had, but I got sent off in the 90th minute for getting in a little scuffle with a player.
That cost me everything. I got fined by both clubs, I only played one more game after that. I played for Sunderland U23s against Everton, and that was my last game for 14 months.
His career is starting to turn around now though, as he has been an instrumental part in Bohemians flying start to the League of Ireland season:
I’m loving it. The lads are great, the staff is great: everyone at the club. I’m in a good place now and that’s down to Bohs.