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Roker Roundup: Ex-SAFC keeper reveals gambling addiction – and how Quinny came to his rescue

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Former Academy keeper Trevor Carson explains why he’ll never forget how Niall Quinn helped him out of a dark place. Meanwhile, two other Academy products are making great strides.

Roker Roundup 20/21
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Carson on how Niall Quinn helped him

Trevor Carson appeared on The Michael Clarke Show this week to discuss his football career, which started at the Academy of Light.

Carson spent eight years at Sunderland after coming up through the ranks, and talks about his spell at the club, including his ‘Sliding Doors’ moment and his thoughts on Lee Cattermole and Roy Keane.

The Northern Ireland international and current Motherwell goalkeeper also divulged that he had serious gambling problems and talked about those issues in depth.

The 33-year-old revealed how he got in serious financial problems while in the North East and went to the club for help and then chairman Niall Quinn went out of his way to make sure Carson’s debt was not an issue and told the goalkeeper to repay him by providing stern competition to Simon Mignolet and Marton Fulop:

I have no shame in saying I did have a gambling addiction. I got myself in pretty serious debt. I wasn’t earning big money at Sunderland at that time. It was the end of the season and I ended up having to go to the club.

Niall Quinn was the chairman at the time and I ended up ringing Niall and he couldn’t have been better. He said ‘come over, speak to me’. And I will never forget him, my mum will never forget him, for what he did for me, because I was in a dark place then.

He got me over, he said to write down my debt — what I owe, who I owe — and he said just forget it. I said no, I have another year on my contract, I will pay you back — deduct it from my wages or whatever, I just need to get my head above water.

You can watch the full interview with Carson by clicking play on the YouTube video below:

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Arsenal - Stadium of Light Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Academy product joins MLS outfit

Sunderland academy product Chris Allan has signed for MLS outfit Atlanta United and has been been placed in their Atlanta United 2 side ahead of the 2021 USL Championship season.

Allan was released by Sunderland in the summer of 2018 but, while he was still in the under-23 set up, the club set him up with an online sports degree and then a full scholarship at the University of Charleston in the United States.

While playing for collegiate football for the university, the now 22-year-old defensive midfielder was named the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player and will now look to forge a professional career with Atlanta United.

Sunderland v Newcastle United: U18 Premier League Photo by Newcastle United/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Shields form delights Ross

Connor Shields had a disappointing spell at Sunderland after arriving from Scottish minnows Albion Rovers and, despite Jack Ross being his manager for the majority of his time in the North East, the current Hibernian manager rarely got to see him play thanks to injuries and loan spells.

Shields is now starring for Queen of the South in the Scottish Championship (with 12 goals and 6 assists to his name this season) and was man of the match last week as his club knocked Hearts out of the Scottish Cup.

Queen of the South now face a home tie against Ross’ Hibs in the next round and Ross told Edinburgh Live that he was delighted to see his former player flourishing:

Connor was at Sunderland before I arrived and in the U23 squad. He was injured when I first went in and then he was out of loan. So even when I watched Sunderland U23s he was very rarely playing.

He’s not someone I got to see a lot of on the pitch. But he was a really good boy in terms of attitude, work ethic and his approach to it.

We probably never got to see enough of him as a footballer, but I think when you have a player under your responsibility you are always keen to see how his career progresses.

His form has been really good this season. He was hugely impressive against Hearts.

Sunderland were linked with Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet in January, a player who was released by Hibs and Partick Thistle as a youngster, dropped down a level or two and has fought his way back and Ross sees similar parallels:

It’s a fair comparison to make in terms of a player who has had a couple of bumps and is trying to work his way back to the top.

The proof in the pudding will be the levels they get to and how they reflect on that journey. Connor was propelled quickly from Albion Rovers to Sunderland which is a big, big jump. Then into their younger age groups.

It’s a bit of a different pathway but in terms of being at a big club then having to find your way again - there’s always psychological challenges in that.

Watching him last weekend, he looked like he is in a good place and feels good about himself. That’s a massive thing in football.

Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images