When Connor Wickham arrived at Sunderland as a teenager from Ipswich Town in 2011, fans were genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing a potential future England striker develop and prosper before our very eyes.
Sadly, for whatever reason, Wickham never quite hit it off here, and despite lasting four years on Wearside, when he eventually departed on this day in 2015 it was tinged with disappointment, and a small amount of bitterness that he never seemed to realise his own potential following a big-money Premier League move.
The deal, reportedly for around £9m, saw the then 22-year old forward join Alan Pardew’s Eagles on a bumper five-year contract - not bad considering his stagnation on Wearside.
I spoke to the gaffer last week and he said all the right things about the club and I’ve got friends here who also told me some very good things.
I looked at the team before I arrived here and the signings that have been brought in, and the potential to score goals and the chances that could be created was a massive influence. Hopefully I can add to that talent and make the squad stronger.
I think I needed the fresh start, I had four years up north and it’s been a bit stop-start.
Now I’ve come back home and I can settle down and see my family a bit more and hopefully let my football do the talking.
Connor’s departure from the club meant that Sunderland had until the end of the month to assess their targets wisely, and buy a forward that could add something extra to our side - then, like right now in 2021, it was clear that the main characteristics required for Wickham’s replacement were pace, power, and the ability to take on their opponent.
Did we get it? Well - not quite. We struggled right the way through August to get someone in, before eventually chucking enough money at Fabio Borini to convince him to come back... and we all know how that went.
Wickham, for me, will be remembered as a huge disappointment with regards to his time as a Sunderland player, and I’m sure not many will disagree.
Ultimately, we paid a hefty sum for a young player who had bags of potential, yet rarely - if ever - showed glimpses of what he was truly capable of.
Blessed with a towering physique, the ability to burst past people with power and pace, and a growing reputation, Wickham never seemed to improve whilst a Sunderland player, and his move to Crystal Palace ultimately was one which mutually benefitted all parties.