FootballGreatest XI

Greatest Sunderland XI Of All Time

Sunderland AFC has always been unpredictable – from their glory days as the dominant force in English football at the dawn of the 20th century, to their fall into relegation in the mid-years, to their rise like a phoenix as FA Cup winners in 1973, to their current dip – their fans have seen it all.

Needless, there have been heroes, characters, fallen angels who won their redemption later, and superstars in a club with such a rich past. We assemble here the All-time Sunderland Greatest XI for you to enjoy.

Using the 4-3-3 formation, here is the greatest Sunderland XI of all time.

GK: Jimmy Montgomery [1961-77] [627 appearances]

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Jimmy is famous for his longevity with the all-time most number of caps for the club. But why he really makes it to this list is the amazing success that went along with his longevity. Jimmy achieved a lot with Sunderland, with his moment of crowning glory being the 1973 FA Cup Final. His twin saves against Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer won the Cup for the Wearsiders that day.


RB: Dick Malone [1970-77] [282 appearances]

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Dick was the classical full-back with limitless energy and spirit. He was always there to hold the Black Cats’ rear guard during his heyday, and his performance in the 1973 FA Cup final makes him a Sunderland legend. He single-handedly marked Eddie Gray into substitution to nullify Leeds’ biggest weapon.

CB: Charlie Hurley [1957-69] [401 appearances]

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Many regard Charlie as Sunderland’s G.O.A.T. player. Popular among his fans as “the King”, Charlie was voted as the club’s “best player of the century”. Surprisingly, he began poorly at Sunderland, and the club got relegated in his debut season. However, he won his redemption by captaining the Black Cats back into promotion in 1964.

CB: David Watson [1970-75][212 appearances]

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David was the air marshall in the Sunderland defence, negating any aerial threats. He had a big heart and was always game to leap up and head away any dangers. It is a pity that Sunderland were playing in the second division for most of the time David was with them. However, he enjoyed his moment of glory by being a vital cog in their defence in the 1973 winning FA Cup campaign.

LB: Len Ashurst [1958-1970] [458 appearances]

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Len was the typical mean and mighty left-back with fierce tackling skills. He is hailed as one of the greatest defenders to guard the Sunderland bastion ever. He had an unending supply of energy, always nagging away at the forwards for their worst nightmare. Len Ashurst was a key player when the Black Cats got promoted in 1964 and deserves him place among the Greatest Sunderland XI of all time.


CM: Bobby Kerr [1966-79] [432 appearances]

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The “little general” was the master and commander of Sunderland’s greatest squads – the 1973 FA Cup champions and the 1976 Division Two winners. His short stature was a foil to his fierce fighting spirit deceiving many opponents. Sitting coy in the midfield, he would marshall his resources and control the gameplay with an iron grip.

CM: Raich Carter [1932-39] [281 appearances]

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Raich was arguably England’s best player in the 1930s. A powerhouse of talent, he captained the Black Cats to League glory in 1936 – the youngest to do so at the time. He again led them to FA Cup victory in 1937. Raich was a prolific scorer and led from the front with his enviable goal scoring exploits.

CAM: Billy Hughes [1966-77] [332 appearances]

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Billy was the creative playmaker at Sunderland with his twin gifts of skills and speed. He regaled fans with his superb technical showmanship and pacy runs at defences. In addition, Billy could shoot thunderbolts with both his left and right. He was a member of the 1973 FA Cup-winning squad.


ST: Charlie Buchan [1910-25] [411 appearances]

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Charlie was a goal-scoring machine and remains the all-time top scorer in the League for Sunderland with 209 goals. He was the top scorer when the Wearsiders won the League in 1912-13 and was the country’s top marksman in the 1922-23 season. Charlie could score them in every form, from every angle. But, his signature glancing header was a treat for the fans and is a legend of the Sunderland lore.

CF: Bobby Gurney [1925-1939] [390 appearances]

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Bobby took over from Charlie as Sunderland’s main sharpshooter for the 1920s and 30s. He boasts of netting a goal for the Black Cats every alternate game. He is the club’s all-time highest scorer with a whopping 228 goals – these include ten hat-tricks and two four-tricks! Bobby started as an inside forward but matured into a classic number 10 – and probably the club’s best centre-forward!

ST: Kevin Phillips [1997-2003] [235 caps]

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Kevin was one of those mysterious centre-forwards with a sixth sense who always find themselves in the best goal-scoring positions. Add his explosive bursts of speed and smart skills, and you are looking at a prolific goal machine. He scored an astonishing 36 goals in his debut season with the Black Cats. He followed that with another 26 the next season and had his best season in 1999-2000 when he won the European Golden Boot.

Checkout: 10 Greatest Sunderland Players of All Time

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