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Sunderland Unveil New Signing Luke O’Nien

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Luke O’Nien joins the SAFC 200 Club: Five of his greatest moments as a Sunderland player!

After hitting a landmark 200 appearances in a Sunderland shirt on New Year’s Day, we’ve decided to have a look back at some of the best moments of his career so far on Wearside.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Interaction with the fan who didn’t know him

You should sign that on the back, just in case you make it one day.

Keep plugging away, and you could be famous.

What’s your name again?

He’d only been here two minutes, but a conversation that O’Nien had with an oblivious supporter who was helping to fit the new red seats inside the Stadium of Light was a reminder of the huge period of change that the club was going through at the time.

We brought in lots of new players, and lots of lads that not many of our fans would have known - O’Nien included. He’d arrived after a season in League Two with Wycombe Wanderers and whilst all Sunderland supporters are now very well accustomed to having Luke around, back then he was just another new face.

The clip of the conversation is 20 minutes into the first episode of season two of Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix, if you want to dig it out.

Biiiiiiiiig tackle in the Playoff Final!

It’s often said that Sunderland supporters will celebrate a tackle as much as they do when we score a goal - you only have to look at the reaction when Trai Hume went through James McClean last week at Wigan for evidence of that.

Yet despite playing against his old club to whom he has a lot of respect and owes a great deal of gratitude, none of that mattered on Playoff Final day in 2022 when we faced off against Wycombe Wanderers.

We were 2-0 up and just trying to see the game out, yet O’Nien ensured his standards didn’t drop and that the tempo stayed the same when he put in a crunching tackle just inside the Sunderland half with minutes left on the clock.

The ball was there to be won, and win it he did - smash, bang, wallop.

Then he rose to his feet and celebrated it like it was the greatest moment of his life - he made that tackle like it was for every single one of the Sunderland fans in the stands. If one of us were out there on the pitch I’d like to think we’d show the same desire and commitment that he does, and I think that’s why so many of us love him - because he plays like he’s got red and white blood coursing through his veins.

I play this video often, and it never gets old.

Sliding into Amad’s DMs

When Amad scored the final goal of the match at Huddersfield to put the game to bed - a huge relief to everyone involved, most importantly the players - a weight was lifted as we realised the three points were coming back to Wearside with us.

And as Amad flopped to the floor, in slid Luke O’Nien.

I’m not quite sure what was going through his head, but everything was brilliant - even down to the timing of the slide with the camera coming into shot.

You’d think he’d planned it. Mad bastard.

Playing with a dislocated shoulder

I guess that this isn’t a ‘moment’, but rather, a collection of moments that probably best encapsulate the type of character that Luke O’Nien is.

Most footballers wouldn’t dream of playing through serious injury, and for many valid reasons. But the path that Luke O’Nien has taken in order to become a footballer hasn’t always been easy, and he takes nothing for granted. If you want his shirt, he’s going to scrap and claw for it until you eventually prise it from his hands - and even then he’d probably keep trying to take it back off you.

When he suffered a serious shoulder dislocation, many of us feared the worst. Yet Luke wasn’t prepared to let that hamper him too much, and he played through the pain barrier for months until it got to the stage where he couldn’t ignore the problem further, and was required to have surgery in order to fix the issue.

For the final month or so before he reluctantly took some time off he would even go as far as to put his own shoulder back in place multiple times during games in order to play on.

Some probably think he’s a little bit crazy, but it’s that type of attitude that has endeared him to the supporters. He gives it his all every single time he steps out on the pitch.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

His worldie at Charlton

He hasn’t scored many goals, but his volley away at Charlton was a corker.

Having been fed the ball out wide by Lynden Gooch, Reece James whipped a dangerous cross into the back post and arriving late and unmarked was O’Nien, who sidefooted in across goal and into the top corner to give Sunderland the lead.

Of the 15 goals that Luke O’Nien has scored in his 200 appearances, this was probably the best quality finish of them all - a cracking goal. It’s just a shame it wasn’t the winner!


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