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On This Day (7 June 1981): Lee Johnson was born! Here are some of his SAFC highlights

On our former head coach’s birthday, we look back at some of the best bits from his spell in charge.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Today is the birthday of our most recent former head coach, Lee Johnson – and, despite his dismissal in January, there were certainly a lot of positives during his spell in charge at Sunderland.


Papa Johns Trophy Victory at Wembley

Winning at Wembley is not something many Sunderland managers can say they have succeeded in doing, and Johnson’s name will always be associated with a trophy-winning Sunderland side at England’s national stadium.

On the day, Lynden Gooch was the hero for the team in a fairly abject game. The academy graduate controlled a glorious through ball from Aiden McGeady, kept his composure to finish and give his side the upper hand. In a game of few chances, the class and creativity of Sunderland and their key man McGeady shone through to ensure Johnson brought the trophy home to the North East.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy Final Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Lincoln 0-4 Sunderland

Early in the Lee Johnson era, Sunderland fans got a taste of what a Johnson team could look like. This was a devastating performance full of attacking vigour and sublime finishing which gave the new boss his first victory at the club.

Despite some early scares and missed chances from Lincoln, Sunderland put the game to bed early on with real conviction. Goals from Charlie Wyke, Grant Leadbitter and Jack Diamond had the game finished as a contest by halftime, and Wyke added a fourth in the second half to compound the misery for the home team. This was Sunderland at their best under Lee Johnson.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Signing Ross Stewart

Not a performance, not a victory, not even a goal – but signing Ross Stewart has to be one of the best things that happened under the stewardship of Lee Johnson. Stewart was little known when he arrived from Ross County, but fans got a glimpse of what Stewart was going to offer very early on. With a goal on his debut against Accrington Stanley, it was clear that the Loch Ness Drogba had something to offer. From then on, he went from strength to strength. This season, he has been nothing short of sensational.

The signing of Stewart has propelled Sunderland into the Championship. As well as his goals, his in-game play is such an asset to the team. He leads the line to great effect and it is really hard to see how we would have got promoted without his presence in our team.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Sunderland 5-0 Sheffield Wednesday

A late Christmas present or an early New Year’s gift? I am not sure but this performance had convinced me for a short time that Sunderland were going up automatically. Against a promotion rival, Sunderland’s play on this wet December night was fantastic to watch. They played with vibrancy, vigour and a dynamism that looked hard to stop.

The game was over early on as two goals from Ross Stewart and another from Callum Doyle gave the lads a comfortable lead. Stewart completed a hat trick after the break and when Benji Kimpioka scored a rare goal you just knew it was going to be our night!

Under Lee Johnson we were capable of blowing teams away at home, but unfortunately, it was the away form just a couple of weeks later that would come back to haunt him.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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