CALLS for a permanent thank you to Niall Quinn have started to pour in after the Sunderland legend stepped down from SAFC.
Soon after the former striker and chairman announced his decision to leave the club, a petition was started to have one of the stands at the Stadium of Light renamed in his honour.
It has already been signed by more than 4,330 people.
Fans, ex-players and friends of the Mackem hero have praised the influence he has had, and applauded him for the work he has done for SAFC and Wearside as a whole.
“Quinny has been a great man for the club,” said Charlie Hurley, Sunderland fans’ player of the century. “And he has always been a real gentleman.
“I can understand his reasons for wanting to spend more time with his family in Ireland, as for a lot of people family is the most important thing.
“To replace Niall will be a tough task, and it will have to be someone special to do the job he has done.
“They will need to be someone who loves the club as much as he does.”
Ex-SAFC captain Gary Bennett said: “He has had a massive impact on the club and without him we would not be where we are now.
“The club was going nowhere when he took over and he’s made us back into a magnificent club.
“The club is now known across the world because of him and he has put us on the map.
“He was a great professional as a footballer and as a man he always had the time of day for you and would always say hello.
“Going forward the club will continue, but he has laid a fantastic foundation and now we have to build on his legacy.”
The petition to rename the South Stand, created by fan and Seventy3’ Magazine online editor Gavin Henderson, says Quinn is regarded as the saviour of Sunderland football club and he is not only a hero to the fans but also to the community.
He said: “We’re overjoyed that so many people have taken to the petition, and I sincerely hope that with enough of a push, the club will also take notice and consider our thoughts.
“It is clear that from the immense support the Sunderland fans have given the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and message boards that this is what we the fans want, and that it’s a great way to pay homage to a club legend.
“We’ve received fantastic feedback from other Sunderland fans – and players such as Titus Bramble, Fraizer Campbell and Jordan Cook have lent themselves too it as well by sharing the petition with their legions of Twitter followers.
“Please keep on helping with the cause as we will be forwarding the petition to Sunderland football club.
“We may be chasing a lost cause, but there is no harm in trying.”
One of the men who was part of the Drumaville Consortium that took over Sunderland in 2006, John Hays, founder of Hays Travel, said Quinn had done a fantastic job.
“If you look at where we were when he took over, we had just been relegated with a record low number of points and morale was very low.
“Even after he took over we lost the first few games, and there was a genuine worry that we could have carried on slipping down.
“But since then we have done amazing things and he has done a fantastic job over the last five years.”
•Click on the link to the top right to visit the petition