Just 7 years ago, Gus Poyet completed a ‘miracle’ in keeping Sunderland in the Premier League after all the odds were stacked against them, achieving an impressive cup run in the process. Beating the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United and finally progressing to the final where they would be defeated 3-1 by Manchester City.
Now in League One, they have since broken their ‘Wembley HooDoo’ with a victory over Tranmere Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy last season.
However where are the players that featured in that final now? We take a look…
GK – Vito Mannone – Monaco
Possibly the strangest one of the whole side. Vito Mannone was a fan favourite amongst those on Wearside and was even rumoured to be rejoining the club this summer however Sunderland perused options elsewhere.
Mannone played a huge part in getting Sunderland to the cup final after some penalty heroics away at Old Trafford earned the Black Cats their place in the final.
Vito would leave Sunderland in 2017 following a relegation and joined Reading on a free transfer. The Italian made just under 50 appearances for Reading in three years with loan spells in the MLS and in Denmark.
Mannone left the club in 2020 and signed for his current club AS Monaco.
RB – Phil Bardsley – Burnley
Another player that played a huge role in getting the Wearsiders a place in the final after his effort on goal in the semi final was spilled into the net by De Gea.
The term ‘Mr Consistent’ gets thrown around a lot but it is definitely suited to Phil Bardsley, especially in regards to his time at Sunderland. That season would prove to be his last however as a Sunderland player before he joined Stoke City on a free transfer upon expiration of his contract.
Bardsley made over 50 appearances for Stoke across a three year span before joining Premier League outfit Burnley in 2017 where he still plays today.
Even at the ripe old age of 36, Bardsley is still proving that he is a more than capable backup.
CB- Wes Brown – Retired
He’s big, he’s bad…
First of two former Manchester United centre backs, Wes Brown. It’s been 10 years since he initially signed for Sunderland and was an important figure throughout his 5 years at the club.
Brown made over 100 appearances for Sunderland after joining from his boyhood club and is another player that contributed heavily throughout Sunderland’s cup run.
Brown went on to leave the club in 2016 and spent a year at Blackburn Rovers where he made only 5 appearances. In the summer of 2017, Brown joined what would end up being his final club, Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters.
Just one year later, Brown decided it was time to hang up his boots at the age of 38.
CB – John O’Shea – Reading (Coach)
O’Shea and Brown formed a formidable partnership at the back for Sunderland throughout their time in the Premier League however as their careers went on, the partnership certainly got somewhat slower.
O’Shea spent 7 years at Sunderland and made over 250 appearances at the heart of their defence. An incredible number. His goal return? Not so incredible. Just the 4 goals during that time.
Unlike many of the players in this list, O’Shea did actually stay at the club following their relegation from the Premier League and played the following season in the Championship where he would suffer back to back elevations for the first time in his career. The summer after, he joined Reading.
Initially, he signed as a player but game time was extremely limited and he has since transitioned into one of their first team coaches.
LB – Marcos Alonso – Chelsea
The one that got away…
Alonso joined Sunderland on loan for the season in which their impressive cup run and miracle escape happened. Despite the short time at the club, Alonso was loved by the fans and many were desperate to see him join on a permanent deal. £3m he would have cost… Sunderland said no.
Just a few years later, Alonso would join Chelsea for £25m and continues his career their today.
In recent years his game time has been limited due to his favoured position being a wing back as opposed to a natural full back. However with the somewhat recent arrival of Tuchel, Alonso has been reinstated into the starting 11 and has certainly impressed both offensively and defensively.
CM – Seb Larsson – AIK
Seb Larsson spent the majority of his career in England starting with Arsenal at the age of 18. in 2011, he joined Premier League side Sunderland and went on to have a long career at the club. Spanning over 6 years and over 200 appearances. Plenty of free kick goals along the way!
Once again, the Sweden international left the club following their relegation and joined Hull City on a one year deal before returning to his home nation Sweden in 2018.
Now 36, Larsson currently plays for AIK having only recently announced his retirement from international football.
CM – Lee Cattermole – Retired
A proper Sunderland legend. Lee Lee Lee!
Out of everyone on this list, no one spent anywhere near the length of time that Cattermole did at the club. After a brief spell at Wigan, he signed for the Black Cats in 2009 and went on to spend 10 years at the club. During this time he made over 300 appearances for the club and is the only player to have played for Sunderland in all 3 divisions since their relegation.
In 2019, Cattermole was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer as the new ownership looked to ship off some of the high earners.
Cattermole would then go on to sign for VVV-Venlo in Holland before hanging his boots up at the end of the season. A true footballing icon.
CM- Ki – FC Seoul
Ki is the second player so far to have featured in the cup final as a loanee. The Korean midfielder joined the club on loan from Swansea and was again a player that many fans wanted to see remain at the club however it wasn’t to be.
Ki returned to his parent club Swansea where he spent another 4 years before joining Sunderland’s rivals Newcastle United… a move that didn’t please many.
It wasn’t the most successful spell for Ki who after only two years was sold again, this time to Spanish side Mallorca where he made just one appearance.
Ki currently plays in the Korean first division for FC Seoul
RW- Emanuele Giaccherini – Retired
The Italian maestro.
Giaccherini has had his fair share of clubs throughout his career, playing predominantly in Italy. In 2013, Sunderland completed the signing of Giaccherini from Italian Giants Juventus however his game time in the North East was surprisingly limited for a player of his calibre.
During three years at the club, he made just over 40 appearances, scoring only a handful of goals before joining Bologna on a season long loan where he scored 7 in 28.
After that loan spell, Napoli swooped in and completed the signing. At the time, Napoli had a number of quality players in an offensive position so again, playtime was limited therefore another loan spell was on the cards, this time to Chievo. This being the last club he played for before retiring in the summer of this year.
LW- Jack Colback – Nottingham Forest
A name that may not go down very well with Sunderland fans nowadays… however Colback was an important figure in that Sunderland side for a while. His versatility being key.
Colback spent a fair 6 years at the club after coming through the academy but left the club on a permanent basis in 2014 to sign for Newcastle United…
Colback would suffer relegation with Newcastle but then gained immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
In 2020, Colback left the North East to sign for Nottingham Forest where he currently plays today.
ST- Fabio Borini – Fatih Karagümrük
Another hero on Wearside. Borini initially joined the club on a loan deal from Liverpool and with goals against Newcastle and a cup final goal against City, he became a clear fan favourite.
Borini joined the club on a permanent basis after long discussions that took multiple transfer windows but never found the form that he did whilst on loan.
In 2018, Borini left the club in a shock move to join AC Milan where he made over 50 appearances in 3 years at the club before joining another Italian Side in Verona.
His time at Verona was short however and in 2020 Borini joined Turkish side Fatih Karagümrük where he plays today.
Which team should we focus on next? Let us know!