Sunderland football club have had some great footballers playing for them over the years. These players contributed to Sunderland’s legacy and left an everlasting mark on the club. In this article, we will have a look at some of the greatest Sunderland players ever.
Based on consistency, longevity, success, impact, loyalty and dedication, here are the 10 greatest Sunderland players ever.
10. Raich Carter
Born in Hendon, Carter was an explosive inside forward who was rightly regarded as one of the best players in the country for the majority of the 1930s. Having made his league debut as a 19-year-old, by the time he was 24 he had won a League Championship medal, an FA Cup winners’ medal and appeared for England.
A superb all-round talent, he skippered Sunderland to victory in the 1937 FA Cup final. He also played first-class cricket for Derbyshire in 1946. He later became a football manager.
9. Dave Halliday
Halliday joined Sunderland in 1925, replacing Charlie Buchan. He has Sunderland goals to games ratio of 0.943, the highest of any striker in Sunderland’s history. He struck 165 goals in 175 games for the Black Cats of which included 156 league goals from 166 games, and nine in nine FA Cup outings.
Halliday scored 12 Sunderland hat-tricks, more than any other Sunderland player. He hit scored 4 goals in a game on three occasions. He is also Sunderland’s third-highest goalscorer of all time. Halliday is undoubtedly one of the greatest Sunderland players ever.
8. Len Shackleton
Shackleton left Newcastle United to join Sunderland in 1948 for a then British record transfer fee – £20,050 – and became one of the most adored and loved players ever to pull on a red and white shirt.
He gained all of his England senior international caps whilst he was a Sunderland player and retired from professional football in 1957 after making 348 appearances for the team, scoring 100 goals.
7. Dave Watson
Dave Watson was signed as a centre forward from Rotherham in 1970 for £100,000. After a period of alternating between centre forward and centre back, he established himself as a rock at the heart of the defence in the 1972/73 season.
Remembered as one of the greatest Sunderland players ever, Watson spent more than a quarter of his long, successful career with the Wearsiders. He spent the whole of his Sunderland career in the Second Division but was a key performer in the 1973 FA Cup-winning campaign, with his whole-hearted defensive display helping the club pull off a Wembley shock. By the end of his footballing career, he had made a remarkable 657 league appearances.
6. Bobby Kerr
Bobby Kerr came to Sunderland in 1964 aged 17 from Alexandria in Scotland. As a young player, he twice recovered from broken legs, which at the time would have ended the career of many. Despite this he scored 69 goals in 433 appearances, barely missing a game between 1970 and 1978.
He might have been small in stature, but Kerr is a towering figure in Sunderland’s post-war history, having skippered the sides that won the FA Cup final in 1973 and Division Two championship three years later. Dubbed the ‘little general’ by Bob Stokoe, Kerr was a ferocious competitor who ran the heart of midfield when he was on song. He played in all nine matches during the successful ’73 cup run.
5. Charlie Buchan
A legendary name from the start of the century, Buchan was a hugely successful inside-forward who could also play through the middle. His record of 209 league goals for Sunderland has never been surpassed, and he could score all kinds of goals, although his speciality was the glanced header.
Buchan was the top scorer in every season from the Championship winning campaign of 1912-13 to 1923-24, and was the country’s leading scorer in 1922-23. He is definitely one of the greatest Sunderland players ever.
4. Kevin Phillips
When Sunderland signed Kevin Phillips from Watford it felt like many other Sunderland signings of that decade. Kevin who? Well that feeling didn’t last long as Kevin Who became Super Kev. What a goal scorer, what a player Kevin Phillips was.
Goals came from everywhere and against everyone. It felt like every time he shot he scored. It was true that he played in an attacking team that created chances, but Kevin Phillips finished them and seemed to finish them all.
His first season in 1997/98 saw him bag 31 goals, the next 23 goals in just 26 games. His first season in the Premier League saw Phillips score 30 goals and become the first Englishman to win the European Golden Boot.
3. Jimmy Montgomery
Sunderland born and bred, Jimmy has given most of his life to Sunderland AFC. Whether judged in terms of longevity, success or talent, Montogmery deserves his place on any list of Sunderland legends. His tally of 623 appearances remains an all-time record, indeed it puts him more than 170 games clear of his closest rival.
His greatest moment came in the 1973 FA Cup final, with his remarkable double save from Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer providing one of the all-time great Wembley moments. He’s a real credit to the club and, in every sense of the word, is a club legend.
2. Bobby Gurney
Born in Silksworth, Gurney’s involvement with Sunderland spanned some 22 years if the war period is included. He was an inside forward who evolved into a centre-forward playing down the middle. There’s no doubt, that he is one of the greatest Sunderland players ever.
Gurney was a resourceful forward who boasted more than a goal every other game throughout his career. He was the top scorer for seven successive seasons. His 228 goals make him Sunderland’s record scorer and include ten hat-tricks and two fours.
1. Charlie Hurley
A man mountain at the centre of defence, Hurley was a ball playing centre-back. Those that watched him regularly often remark that he was ahead of his time.
His ability to head the ball in attacking areas changed the way that corners were viewed. When we won a corner the adoring Mackem crowd would chant “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie” as it was in expectation of a towering header hitting the back of the net.
One of the greatest Sunderland players ever, Hurley, made 401 appearances and scored 26 goals for Sunderland – he also gained 40 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Nicknamed “The King”, a mark of how good Hurley was is perhaps evidenced in that he was the runner-up to the one and only Bobby Moore as Football Writers player of the year in 1964. Hurley was voted Sunderland’s Player of the 20th Century and remains a hero to this day.
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