Chris Young’s Sunderland North American diary: Don’t laugh, but Jozy Altidore has fans out here

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Footballers only need to blow their nose nowadays and they find themselves papparazied.

Sunderland fans have found out more about Connor Wickham’s holidays over the last few seasons than his travel agent.

But there was an irresistible opportunity to conduct some stealth photography after arriving here in Canada.

Tired, irritable and jet-lagged after landing in Toronto on Saturday night, I trotted out to source a bit of nourishment before catching 40 winks.

Who should be in front of me in the queue? None other than Jozy Altidore’s number one fan.

Now, Altidore may have become something of a figure of fun among Sunderland fans, but out here, Altidore is a marquee player.

He should be too. Figures released by the MLS last week showed Altidore is on a £60,000 a week contract at Toronto. That is nothing to laugh about.

H Courtesy of the Toronto tourist board, I have been based in the excellent Eaton Chelsea hotel.

But I’m not alone.

It’s slightly bigger than a Travelodge, with 27 floors, several of which are accommodating athletes from the Pan-Am Games.

The games got underway in Toronto last week, but before you ask though, no, there’s been no sign of any beach volleyball participants.

H Dick Advocaat gave his players the chance to explore the sights of the city – their first real time off of this whole North American tour.

Advocaat has given his squad some trust, rather than treating them like children.

Two years ago in Hong Kong, some of Paolo Di Canio’s side conducted a stealth mission to McDonalds after being left hungry on the Italian’s carb-free diet, yet wary of being punished for ketchup consumption.

It didn’t exactly help Di Canio’s mission to earn the unwavering loyalty of his squad.