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On This Day (2 July 1998): Oh, Tommy Tommy! Sunderland’s great Dane arrives on Wearside

Hoping to tighten things up at the back, Sunderland boss Peter Reid made an important addition to his squad on this day twenty five years ago...

The happy couple!

Having just fallen short of promotion in heartbreaking circumstances during the Division One playoff final, Peter Reid was fine tuning his squad by the summer of 1998, ahead of what he hoped would be a season of success.

Performances prior to Wembley suggested that a major overhaul wouldn’t be needed, but with the team sometimes susceptible at the back, the gaffer was keen to introduce an element of stability.

Feeling that a change was needed between the sticks, Reid signed Danish prospect Thomas Sorensen on this day twenty five years ago, and the boss was clearly very happy about getting the deal over the line.

Thomas Sorensen of Sunderland

I’ve been tracking Thomas for a while and I’m just pleased that we’ve got him.

Thomas was recommended to us and both Tony Coton and chief scout Andy King had a look at him.

I think he’s going to be a do a tremendous job for us. He has a magnificent physique and is a great athlete. He has got everything to be a top goalkeeper.

Brought in from Odense, the twenty two-year-old had already been capped at Under 21 and ‘B’ levels for Denmark and was seemingly just as keen to complete the move;

After visiting the Stadium of Light, I was highly impressed by both Peter Reid and what the club had to offer.

I’m now looking forward to my new life in North East and playing football in such a magnificent arena.

Prior to this, Reid had been linked with other stoppers, including the emerging Steve Simonsen at Tranmere Rovers.

A native of South Shields and known to have been a big Sunderland fan when he was growing up, Simonsen had been catching the eye since breaking through into the senior game and would eventually move to Everton in a big money move two months later – but Reid appeared comfortable with his own spending.

Thought to be paying around £1 million for the similarly-named Sorensen, he had high expectations.

Top quality goalkeepers are still there in England, but I just think football has moved on. I was quoted an awful lot of money for a young goalkeeper here.

I like value for money and I have a gut feeling about Thomas. Normally international managers and coaches like goalkeepers with a lot of experience.

I think the experience he’ll get here will be a tremendous help to the lad. Yes, I think he will become an international.

The confidence shown in Sorensen was emphasised by him being handed a three-year contract with the option of a further twelve months.

He quickly lived up to the hype, making a good start to his Wearside career and missing just one game all season.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Sunderland v Birmingham City Photo by Adam Davy/EMPICS via Getty Images

Early appearances included the home and away legs of a Worthington Cup first round tie against York City that had been drawn on the day he joined, and with our new number one looking good, the Lads eventually reached the semi-finals of the newly renamed competition.

Our league form was ever better however, as we stormed to the title in real style.

Sorensen kept twenty nine of a total of thirty clean sheets across all competitions to help set a new club record, and the following campaign saw Reid’s predictions continue to come to fruition when the Dane not only made the step up into the Premiership, but also earned a full international debut as well.


Thomas Sorensen

Born: Fredericia, 12 July 1976

Sunderland league debut:

Sunderland 1 (Phillips 75’)

Queens Park Rangers 0

Football League Division One, Stadium of Light, 8 August 1998

Final Sunderland appearance:

Sunderland 0

Arsenal 4 (Henry 7’, Ljungberg 39’, 78’, 88’)

Barclaycard Premiership, Stadium of Light, 11 May 2003

Total appearances:

197

Tony Coton, who was looking after the reserves at this point whilst trying to overcome a serious injury, ran the rule over the new arrival
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