I always enjoyed Grant Leadbitter’s performances for Sunderland. He played every match with such love and adoration for the club that it was hard not to feel endeared towards his approach to the game.
Leadbitter’s second spell was evidently not successful as the first. With Sunderland planted in League One, the perception was that the return of the local lad to Wearside would create a sense of excitement and togetherness among the fans and players.
In fairness to Leadbitter, he gave it his all.
Despite some personal difficulties off the pitch, he still maintained his commitment to the club as much as he could through those difficult times - and his contributions were perhaps seen best in the amount of assists that he brought to the side in his second spell.
With big games in the league and the Checkatrade Trophy coming up, Sunderland manager Jack Ross praised the commitment of the veteran midfielder - citing the ‘calmness’ that he brought to the squad as an important thing to have with the squad vying for promotion.
I’ve been pleased with the contribution he’s made.
He’s made an obvious one in terms of assists and I think his performance levels have been good but what he’s brought to the group has been good as well.
He does things properly every single day and he demands that of others.
I had others like that here, it was just adding to the strength of that.
I’ve enjoyed working with him, he’s my type in terms of how he does everything.
Considering he hadn’t had a lot of football before he came in, he can be pleased with what he’s done.’
I speak a lot about unseen work but these things have got to be right. They don’t guarantee you winning games or being successful, but they matter to the fabric of the club and there are a number within the group that do that day after day. That becomes the norm and even the floaters become like that.
It can go the other way very quickly as well, I’ve seen that first hand.
It wasn’t like we needed someone to do that, we just needed another one and it strengthens the group as well.
Anyone who knows Grant will tell you that’s what he does every day.
High praise indeed for Leadbitter, who was keen to bring Sunderland a step closer to the promised land of the Premier League.
Alas, it was not to be, but he still did his bit, despite his advancing years. He was named captain of the team for 2019-20 campaign, contributing some significant goals (with many from the penalty spot) in the early parts of the infamous ‘Covid season’.
To this day, his time at the club is always reflected fondly upon, as there are not many players who have displayed as much affection for this club as this man did.