SUNDERLAND legend Niall Quinn is in line to be given the keys to the city.
Sunderland City Council leaders are to discuss honouring the former Sunderland player, manager and chairman the Freedom of the City.
Joël Batteux, the Mayor of Sunderland’s twin-town St Nazaire, is also in line for the honour. Sunderland’s ruling cabinet will discuss the plans next week.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Here are two notable individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Sunderland and life in our city.
“I am looking forward to next Wednesday’s meeting and recommending that we agree this at Cabinet.
“Subject to cabinet, the proposals formally seal the relationships between the nominees and the City of Sunderland and would recognise their contributions to the well being and community spirit of the city.
“The proposal will also further strengthen the relationship between the city and its twin town St Nazaire.”
Monsieur Batteux participated in one of the very first school exchange visits to Sunderland as a teenager in the late 1950s, spending a week at Bede School.
As well as supporting the direct international partnership that Saint-Nazaire shares with Sunderland, Monsieur Batteux’s commitment to Anglo-French relations has included significant work with British veterans.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire on behalf of Saint-Nazaire by the then-British Ambassador to France, Sir Peter Westmacott, in Paris in 2008.
Sunderland’s then Deputy Mayor Councillor Dennis Richardson was delighted to represent the city on this occasion and hear Sir Peter praise ‘the exceptional relations that Saint-Nazaire has with Great Britain’.
Distinguished Irish international and former Sunderland AFC player Mr Quinn broke with tradition in 2002. He donated all proceeds from his testimonial game to charities including children’s hospitals in Sunderland, Dublin and India.
He was made an honorary MBE in 2003 and after retiring became chairman of the club and helped spearhead the growth of Sunderland AFC’s global profile as its head of international development. He stood down from the club in 2012 to further his business interests and spend time with his family. He is now a regular commentator on Sky Sports.
Subject to Cabinet, it would be only the fourth time that individuals have been conferred with freedoms since Sunderland gained city status 21 years ago.
Monday 11 November has been provisionally lined up as the date for the freedoms to be conferred.
In 2006, Dr Ram Bannerjee, Sir Tom Cowie and Denise Robertson were granted their freedoms, and in 2007 Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE.
In 2011, former councillor Mr John Mawston, Sir Bob Murray CBE and Sir Peter Vardy were made freemen for the significant contributions they have made to the city.
Other freedoms of Sunderland include television reporter Kate Adie, 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, 3 Rifles and the crew of HMS Ocean.