GOALKEEPER – Jason Steele
Somehow, after being one of the worst goalkeepers in Sunderland’s recent history, Steele bagged a move to Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion. Since that move four years ago, Steele has played 12 (TWELVE) times. His agent really must have the gift of the gab!
DEFENCE – Bryan Oviedo, John O’Shea, Billy Jones, Adam Matthews
Four players who are no longer at the club. In fact, none of this starting eleven are so can only assume they’ve gone on to better their careers, right?
Bryan Oviedo left us in 2019 after the playoff defeat to Charlton. He’s since played for Danish side Copenhagen – who, to be fair, have played in Europe so it’s not a total fall from grace for the Costa Rican international. The left back has recently signed for Real Salt Lake in the MLS, which indicates that his playing days are nearing the end!
John O’Shea left us after relegation to League One and joined Reading, where he played nine times before calling it a day and turning to coaching. He’s now a first-team coach for Stoke City, who we’ll meet very soon!
Billy Jones also left us after relegation and managed to bag another Championship move despite barely showing the ability to play at National League level. After Rotherham decided he wasn’t good enough either, he got shipped on loan to Crewe and seems to have fallen off the face of the earth since. Has anyone heard from Billy? Is he alright?
Adam Matthews stayed with us for the first part of the Jack Ross season. He was actually really good until he got injured – earning the nickname ‘Welsh Cafu’ from fans after his performance against Walsall in the 2-2 draw. He was Charlton’s regular right back for three years until his contract expired this summer. He’s now gone to enjoy the sun in Cyprus, signing for AC Omonia back in June.
MIDFIELD – Aiden McGeady, Lee Cattermole, Didier Ndong, George Honeyman ((7))
To be fair, ½ were good servants for us, ¼ was an alright servant and the other ¼ isn’t really worth my time typing about – but here we are!
Aiden McGeady was our only bright spark in that Championship, and was probably the sole reason we didn’t go down with even less points. Scoring some absolute belters in over 100 games in red and white, he left lifting the playoff trophy – signing off with that wonderful smile of his. Since leaving in June, ‘Geads’ has gone to join Lee Johnson at Hibs, but has already aggravated that same knee injury and will be out for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see much more of Mcgeady on a football pitch.
Lee Cattermole. A Sunderland icon? Sunderland hero? Whatever you think of Lee Cattermole, he was an incredible servant for the club – and he stuck by us for ten years. Cattermole was hilarious in our first season League One, as he turned into a goal scoring midfielder, even scoring a brace at Wimbledon! When he left us, he went to Holland for a year before hanging up the boots. He’s now the coach at Middlesbrough for their Under-18s.
Didier Ndong refused to turn up for training after we went down to League One. He actually showed glimpses of quality at times but was an absolute nutcase and went AWOL with his mate Papy. After possibly the weirdest transfer of all time in which he signed on loan for Watford in the January of that Championship season, Ndong left Sunderland and signed for French club Guingamp. He played 12 times for them before signing for another French side, this time Dijon.
George Honeyman went on to become the captain of the (at the time) worst side in our entire history, for the first season in League One. He then signed for Hull in the Championship so that Stewy Donald could make a few quid. ‘The Beekeeper’ stayed there until the end of last season when he swapped East Yorkshire for East London and signed for Millwall.
ATTACKERS – James Vaughan, Duncan Watmore
James Vaughan, AKA Mr Earcup, might go down as the worst strikers we’ve ever had, with one of the biggest egos we’ve ever seen. You’d have thought his goal at Burton was a goal that broke records, but it was actually his second goal in red and white, and his last. He’s had four different clubs since and has continued his prolific scoring form – notching 37 goals in 110 games for Wigan, Portsmouth, Bradford and Tranmere. Lethal!
Injuries ruined what could have been a really successful Sunderland career for Duncan Watmore. After two ACL injuries and a broken leg within three years at the club, a fresh start was needed for the ‘Brazilian’ who could not re-find the form from his breakthrough 2015/16 season. He didn’t move too far away when he left at the end of the 2019/20 season though, with a move to Middlesbrough allowing Watmore to show his capabilities again!