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Roker Roundup 23-24

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Roker Roundup: Stefan Schwarz calls Sunderland fans “incredible” & Giaccherini calls it a day!

A Swedish midfield legend tells tales of his love of Wearside, Giaccherini retires, plus other news of former SAFC players across Europe as contracts come to an end.

Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Schwarz on one of the ‘world’s greatest football cities’

Stefan Schwarz was one of the better players to pull on a Sunderland shirt during our time in the Premier League.

After starring for Benfica, Arsenal and Fiorentina at club level, the Swedish international was in-demand in the summer of 1999, but he has revealed to FourFourTwo that he turned down Liverpool to move to the Stadium of Light, after he gave his word to Peter Reid and Bob Murray.

A decision he knows was the right choice:

Peter Reid and Bob Murray did a fantastic job there, and they completely sold me on what the club was trying to achieve. It was an easy team to play in, because you knew that Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips were going to score goals – they were easy strikers to serve. Niall’s technical ability is often overlooked, but he was superb.

No one liked to play against us. For the first couple of seasons, we challenged in the Premier League, but then injuries and suspensions kicked in.

Other clubs came in for me before I went there, including Liverpool, but I made a commitment to Peter and Bob. Looking back, I know I made the right choice.

Schwarz was asked whether he watched Sunderland Til I Die and said that not only does he watch it, but he gets goosebumps whenever he sees it and makes it clear that he is still enamoured with the club:

Everyone in the area is just so passionate. It’s one of the world’s greatest football cities. The noise they can make there is something else. From the youngest person to the oldest, everyone involved with the club is incredible.

He famously had a clause in his contract stopping him from travelling to space while with Sunderland and spoke how that clause came about:

We were discussing the contract and there was a lot of toing and froing – it was taking ages to sort out. I had my solicitors with me, and agents were involved. I remember being sat in an office and Moonraker – the James Bond film – was on. I was commenting about how amazing it looked up in space, and one of the agents turned around and said he had tickets for the first commercial space flight in 2002. I was so tired of my solicitors messing around that I told them I would love to do it. Sunderland eventually got wind of it and said there was no chance of taking time off to fly to the Moon!

Soccer - AXA FA Cup - Fifth Round - Sunderland v West Ham United Photo by Steve Morton/EMPICS via Getty Images

Former Black Cats in the news

Emanuele Giaccherini has confirmed his departure from Italian outfit Chievo and has revealed that he believes his playing days are over.

The former Sunderland midfielder told SkySport24 that he wants to give himself 10 days to think things over, with the 36-year-old admitting that he may have played his last game:

I will no longer play in Chievo. I haven’t decided 100 percent yet, but it may have been the last year of my career. I think so, I still have to think about ten days, but I could say goodbye to football.

One of the many young players to depart Sunderland’s academy under the reign of Stewart Donald was Australian youth international Jacob Young, who joined Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim in the summer of 2019.

Unfortunately the player has already been released by the German side after an injury hit season in which he made just two appearances for their development squad.

Better news for another Academy product, as Michael Ledger has signed a new contract with Greenock Morton after impressing at right-back during the 2020-21 season.

Former Sunderland winger Charis Mavrias has officially signed for Apollon Limassol from their Cypriot rivals Omonia Nicosia. The 27-year-old has signed a deal that will keep him at the club until 2023 and will be reunited with ex-team-mate Valentin Roberge.

Finally, forgotten ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Edwin Zoetebier has joined Eredivisie club Vitesse as their first team goalkeeper coach. Zoetebier joined Sunderland in 1997 but was only at the club for a few months, playing two League Cup games before departing for Feyenoord.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

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