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What is the best-ever performance by a visiting player at the Stadium of Light?

In its twenty six year history, our home stadium has played host to some memorable performances by opposing players. We asked our writers to choose their personal favourites

Photo credit should read Ian MacNicol/AFP via Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…

One performance that does spring to mind is Thierry Henry on the final day of the 2002/2003 season. We lost 4-0 at home to Arsenal, but Henry proved that he was one of the best players in the world with one goal and three assists.

He was simply unplayable, albeit against an already-relegated Sunderland side whose confidence was shot, and he gave Joachim Bjorklund a torrid afternoon.

His pace, skill and all round game was just too good and I remember walking out of the stadium thinking ‘thank God that game and season was over’ but realising that I saw an all-time great at work that afternoon.

Henry has since been very complimentary about Sunderland, firstly in 2012 when he scored a last minute winner for Arsenal and also when working for Sky Sports.

Simply the greatest Premier League striker of all time.

Sunderland v Arsenal Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…

Maybe this resides more freshly in the memory after the news of his retirement, but I’ll never forget Eden Hazard’s performance on a midweek night in 2013.

The game itself was mental, with a 3-4 win for Chelsea feeling overshadowed by Jozy Altidore finding the net, but despite such a momentous moment, it was Hazard who stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

Rarely, if ever, have I seen a man command a football pitch quite like the Belgian that evening. His trademark disinterest without the ball was plain for all to see but as soon as Chelsea had it, his teammates became his choir as he assumed the role of conductor.

I’ve never seen a player travel so quickly and so effortlessly across the turf at the Stadium of Light or control a game quite like he did. That night, he didn’t just play on the pitch; he graced it.

Everything about the performance was so effortless and dripping with class. It was a masterclass in close control, vision and execution.

It’s rare you leave a stadium after a defeat and feel glad that you were there to see it, but walking out that night, everyone leaving was aware that in Hazard, they’d seen something truly special.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Chelsea - Stadium of Light Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Derek Carter says…

My fellow contributors have chosen two absolute superstars in Hazard and Henry, and I’m also going to go for an ‘H’, so step forward Greg Halford.

I must point out that I haven’t been on the sauce but back in 2006 he gave an outstanding performance as part of a mid-table Colchester side and if it hadn’t been for him, we could’ve trebled the amount of goals we scored.

He virtually played us on his own; he looked like a player heading for the top, and he had everything going for him.

Halford was built like a brick shithouse, had excellent technical ability and a massive throw. Unfortunately, it would appear that being a big fish in a small pond at Colchester may have boosted his ego a bit too much because his career didn’t pan out as well as it should have.

When Roy Keane signed him, he was seen as a quality addition (based on the performance above) but it turned into a nightmare as he only played eight games, picking up two red cards along the way, and was shipped out pretty quickly.

He’s still playing at thirty eight, and turning out for Hashtag United in the Isthmian League, but the number of clubs he’s had since leaving us is ridiculous. Another case of a waste of talent.

Cork City v Sunderland Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images


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