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On This Day (21st February 2023): Happy Birthday to four former Sunderland players!

Four (incredibly random) former Sunderland players celebrate their birthday today - so we say “all the best” to Pascal Chimbonda, Dame N’Doye, Charis Mavrias and Benji Kimpioka!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Pascal Chimbonda

Do you remember this fella? This is the guy who apparently would not take part in a set-piece training session as he had just got his braids done!

Chimbonda arrived at the club in the summer of 2008 as part of the deal that brought three Tottenham Hotspurs players - Chimbonda, Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque - to Wearside. Chimbonda came in and picked up the right back position almost immediately.

After decent spells at Wigan and Tottenham, it was thought the French man could turn into a decent signing for the club given his Premier League experience - but it didn’t work out the way it was hoped.

An eccentric character, Chimbonda’s time at the club coincided with the demise of Roy Keane’s tenure at Sunderland and he only made 13 appearances at the club - though one of them was against Newcastle in the 2-1 win in the Tyne-Wear derby.

After Keane’s departure, Chimbonda fell out with caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia and returned to Tottenham after only six months.

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dame N’Doye

I won’t lie, I completely forgot about this guy playing for the club until I found out it was his birthday.

N’Doye struck me as a typical Big Sam signing - a strong, hardworking forward who wouldn’t get you loads of goals but wasn’t shy either. He came in as extra cover for Jermain Defoe during the 2015-16 season - and certainly played his part in our eventual escape from relegation.

Though not prolific, N’Doye nabbed himself a goal against Crystal Palace in a 2-2 draw and was a general nuisance when he played.

After Sunderland, he joined FC Kobenhaven where scored 31 goals in 47 games.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Benji Kimpioka

I actually liked Benji, I thought there was a player there with him.

Kimpioka came through our academy ranks after joining the club in 2016. He appeared to be a player that struck curiosity with the fans and some people felt he should have been given more opportunities than he was - especially in League One.

His most memorable moment for the club is certainly his last-gasp equaliser against Coventry in December 2019 - whilst I am delighted to admit I witnessed his goal against Sheffield Wednesday in our 5-0 thumping of the Owls in December 2021.

Happy Birthday Benji!

Charis Mavrias

I remember being on holiday in Zakynthos the year the Greek winger joined us. I stumbled across a bar that was owned by members of his family. The pub was a shrine to the man himself, with pictures and jerseys of the player surrounding me. I tried to tell the barman that I support the team that he just signed for - but I had no Greek and he had no English. The excitement subsided quickly enough.

Mavrias signed when we were a basket case under Paolo Di Canio. Coming from Greek giants Panathinaikos, his reputation was decent and hopes were high.

Whilst certainly having the pace, Mavrias didn’t have the footballing ability to match it for the Premier League and the winger was shipped out on loan for the majority of his three year spell at the club - only making four appearances for Sunderland’s first team.

He is now plying his trade in Cyprus with Apollon Limassol.

Sunderland AFC v Leicester City FC- Barclays U21 League Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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