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The SAFC 365 Advent Calendar (Dec 3rd): Three Lions on a shirt!

Your countdown to Christmas – but with a Sunderland AFC twist! 

Still got somebody you need to buy a gift for? Have you been given some Christmas cash or a bonus at work? Buy SAFC 365 then! A Sunderland anthology, it is jam packed with red and white history and will see all profits go to the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen…

The book has an entry for each day of the year, looking back across nearly 145 years’ worth of Sunderland highs and lows, so to whet your whistle Roker Report has an advent window ready for every morning in the build up to the 25th of December.

Three international caps for a local boy done good

Castletown’s own Michael Gray was at Sunderland for well over a decade, playing his part in several memorable teams, including during the halcyon early days of the Stadium of Light.

His form saw him earning three caps for the England national side in 1999, joining an esteemed list of players that represented their country while on the club’s books. Sweden’s Sebastian Larsson leads the way with 59 appearances for his homeland during his Wearside spell, while John O’Shea featured for the Republic of Ireland 48 times after moving to the club – he scored twice during this period, including a goal against the reigning World Champions Germany in 2014.

Gray is one of 28 Sunderland players to have pulled on an England shirt. He debuted in the same game as clubmate Kevin Phillips, while before them, the last person to have done so was Nick Pickering who, like Gray, had come through the ranks as a local lad and was as equally versatile and energetic. He made his bow in 1983, playing in a friendly against Australia.

Michael Gray

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