Mention the name and you immediately think ‘West Ham’. It was one of the best individual performances in a generation, and has become the stuff of folklore.
Brady’s remembered as a footballing genius whose Sunderland career was tragically cut short by injury. And that’s all true.
However, Kieron Brady’s time at Sunderland wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops.
By his own subsequent admission, he wasn’t exactly the model professional. In fact, mention the name Kieron Brady to some Sunderland supporters and they won’t immediately think ‘West Ham’. They’ll think ‘Pet Shop Boys’.
If you know, you know.
While supremely talented, Brady had – for a variety of reasons – failed to establish himself as a first team regular for any prolonged period of time under either Denis Smith or his successor Malcolm Crosby. And, on this day 29 years ago, he was linked with a move to Celtic after having a transfer request accepted by Sunderland’s board.
It was the second transfer request Brady had put over the preceding month.
The first had been rejected, but second time round the club seemed more willing to part ways.
Despite performing well in the FA Cup – notably setting up David Rush’s winner at West Ham – the 20-year-old had fallen out of favour at Roker Park, and had only started three league games all season.
The Evening Chronicle reported:
Brady has consistently infuriated the Roker hierarchy with his huge potential but apparent inability to produce the goods on a regular basis.
At the same time, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has been equally frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities.
Brady’s first transfer request in November was turned down, but now the Roker directors and new manager Malcolm Crosby, who has coached Kieron since his junior days, have decided they can’t wait in the hope that his limitless talent eventually shines through.
The hope of a move to Celtic didn’t last long, however, with Celtic’s assistant manager Tommy Craig saying:
We have no interest whatsoever, but I’m very perturbed that Celtic are being used once again as a vehicle to sell players.
Brady only played twice more for Sunderland – starting against Leicester at Filbert Street in early April (we went down 3-2, Bennett and Goodman our scorers), while his final game came from the bench the following week in a 2-1 home defeat to Charlton.
He’d been on the bench at Hillsborough as we headed to the FA Cup Final and, according to Malcolm Crosby, the overweight Brady was incentivised to lose some timber with the offer of a starting place – or at least a subs’ shirt – at Wembley.
Instead of losing weight, however, Brady put a few pounds on.
He wasn’t in the Wembley line up, but was still at Sunderland the following season, and enjoyed a successful loan at Doncaster during which he scored three in four games.
Upon his return, however, he pulled out of a reserve game with pains in his feet, and hospital tests followed.
In December 1992, Crosby said:
The lad has often talked about getting pains in his legs but we’ve never been able to find out what the problem has been.
Since he came back to Sunderland he has struggled in training and has often had to pull out of long runs.
Brady was subsequently diagnosed with a rare vascular condition, which ultimately forced his premature retirement – and leaving him unable to fulfil the mountains of potential he had.
If he had fulfilled it, however, there’s no guarantee it would have been at Sunderland.
Regardless, he’s ours.
For those of us that were there that day, the West Ham game will live with us forever.
To those who weren’t, Brady’s performance may seem to have been exaggerated over the years.
I can tell you, it hasn’t been. It was perfection.