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On This Day (21st October 1984): Happy Birthday Kieran Richardson!

Today marks the birthday of a former Sunderland favourite, a mag-slayer - Kieran Richardson!

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The summer of 2007 was a whirlwind one for Sunderland fans.

After gaining promotion from the Championship, Roy Keane’s team were riding on the crest of a wave.

Keane was tasked with building a squad that he deemed capable of surviving in the Premier League which led to him signing some familiar names.

In the Championship, he ventured back to his former clubs such as Glasgow Celtic, Manchester United and also old international teammates to bring in players that he could trust to do a job for his struggling side.

The method appeared to work and during this summer of 2007, Keane struck again.

He joined us for £5.5 million and was undoubtedly one of the players that fans were excited about (despite reservations from his cousin Charlie on Big Brother who couldn't understand why he was joining Sunderland).

Whilst not a regular for Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, the left footed winger had amounted enough appearances to suggest he could be an exciting addition.

His loan spell at West Bromwich Albion in 2005 gave Richardson the platform to display his flourishing ability, where he scored three goals in twelve appearances, playing a pivotal role in Bryan Robson’s team surviving in the league.

His start to his Sunderland career was one of frustration and inconsistency. Richardson started the first game of the season against Tottenham in 2007 but seemed out of sorts and unfit.

Within weeks, it was revealed that he was playing with a stress fracture in his back that was clearly inhibiting his play. Frustratingly, this left him out of action for up to four months with his first game back being a substitute against Manchester United in a 4-0 defeat on Boxing Day.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Days later, Richardson finally announced himself with a cracking goal against Bolton in a crucial 3-1 victory.

From this moment onwards, the former United man appeared to settle into his new surroundings with his versatility seeing him switch between winger and central midfield many times throughout the season.

In January, Richardson added two more goals to his tally with two crucial goals in a 2-0 win against Portsmouth - 24 hours after Harry Redknapp was seen visiting St James’ Park for talks over becoming their new manager.

A reoccurrence of a hamstring injury curtailed his stop-start first campaign - but in many ways it was the best thing for Richardson who returned to pre-season for the next campaign in pristine condition.

Looking leaner, sharper and stronger Richardson became an integral part of the team for the 2008-09 season.

A week before the Tyne-Wear derby, Richardson bizzarely scored a free kick against Fulham which was disallowed, before hitting the crossbar with another minutes later in the same game.

This game preceded a moment that is unforgettable for any Sunderland fan who was fortunate enough to be in the stadium.

SOCCER - Barclays Premier League - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

With the game 1-1 going into the final twenty minutes, Richardson pounced upon the opportunity to make himself a hero. From just the edge of the box, the midfielder struck a free kick with such ferocity it almost burst the net leaving Shay Given hapless.

Cue pandemonium and instantly, Richardson’s name went into folklore for being the man who scored a memorable winning goal against Newcastle United with the man himself labelling it the best goal he ever scored.

I remember it and I remember the build-up to it.

The week before we played Fulham away and I took two free-kicks - the first hit the crossbar and both posts but stayed out, and the second one went in but Pascal Chimbonda fouled someone in the wall so it was disallowed!

I was on a roll, though, so I was confident and I knew the next week that if I took a free-kick I would be in a good position to score a goal. The whole week in the build-up, people were saying we hadn’t beaten them at home in X amount of years - I can’t remember how many, but it was a lot.

Knowing how passionate everyone in Sunderland, in the city, is about their club, as a player you just want to win that game so badly because you know how much it means to the fans. So for us to win that game in the style we did, and to get the winner at 2-1 ... it was the best goal I’ve ever scored, for me personally.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Newcastle United - Stadium Of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

‘Rico’s career at Sunderland extended a further four years after this season where he played under Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce and also Martin O’Neill.

His versatility became an integral part of his role at the club where he played as a central midfielder, left winger, left back, attacking midfielder and also striker.

With almost 150 games played and an eye for goal, the Londoner was always a key part of the squad.

One would find it to argue that he was a successful signing for the club and on his birthday today, we send best wishes to the man who gave many Sunderland fans one of the best days supporting the club.


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