NIALL Quinn won the hearts of Wearsiders with his actions both on and off the pitch.
During the course of his chairman-ship, the adopted Mackem has become something of an ambassador for the city.
His committed charity work, his determination to promote the city abroad, his efforts to help young people across the North East and his pride in the area have won him international praise - and the devotion of Black Cat fans.
Back in 2002, proceeds from the striker’s testimonial game went towards building the Niall Quinn Children’s Centre, at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Thanks to his generosity, the centre has gone on to help tens of thousands of Wearside children and it remains a pivotal part of the hospital today.
As a result of his actions, in 2003, he was given the prestigious Beacon Fellowship Prize for his contribution to medical and children’s charities.
In 2008, Quinn received the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society in University College Dublin.
Quinn is also a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, set up in honour of his friend, the former England and Newcastle manager who died in 2009.
The former chairman was also instrumental in Sunderland being named a host city as part of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
He actively promoted the bid and worked tirelessly to make sure the region was suitable represented, highlighting the passionate footballing heritage that is in the North East.
England however, were among the candidates who received the fewest amount of votes as Russia was awarded the tournament.
Throughout his years with the club, Quinn has also worked closely with the SAFC Foundation which helped 40,000 children across the North East last year alone.
He has promoted events including the annual Sunderland Ball and the Football Friday nights held at the Seaburn centre, and later in Durham, which all aim to give young people a better start in life.
Quinn said: “At a time when people question football’s link to reality, I think the work of the Foundation shows that we are very much in touch with our fans and that we value the social responsibility we have.
“The love people in this city have for the club is not about trophies, it’s about something far more deep-rooted than that and that’s something we want to nurture.”
Yesterday saw the launch of his annual Niall’s mile walks.
Now in its third year, the walks aid the Foundation, which was founded in 2001, by encouraging people to get up, out and fit by walking for charity.
Quinn has promised to make an appearance at one of the walks, with other special guests also lined up to put their best foot forward.