The 10 highlights of Niall Quinn's Sunderland reign '“ 10 years after he took charge
It's 10 years this summer since Niall Quinn took charge at the Stadium of Light and rejuvenated a club that had become consumed by despair.
Sunderland had just been relegated from the Premier League with a then record low of 15 points, yet they returned to the top flight at the first time of asking and have been there ever since.
Here’s a look back at the top 10 moments from Quinn’s tenure as Sunderland chairman:
1. Appointing Roy Keane as manager
Quinn was forced to begin the 2006-07 campaign in the dug-out, yet he swiftly realised that his abilities were better-suited to the boardroom.
Keane might have not been the “world class manager” that Quinn promised, but his sheer presence and Championship signings instantly transformed a confidence-drained side.
It was an inspired appointment and after Sunderland roared back from a goal down to triumph at Derby in Keane’s first game in charge, the whole mood around Wearside shifted.
2. Niall Quinn’s taxi cabs are the best
Zealous EasyJet’s decision to cancel a flight from Bristol after Sunderland’s 1-0 win at Cardiff left around 80 Sunderland supporters stranded at the airport.
But Quinn refused to leave a man down, and ordered a fleet of 18 taxis to ferry fans back to the North East at a cost of £8,000.
3. Earning promotion against Burnley
Typically, Sunderland didn’t do things the easy way in the game which was to secure their return to the Premier League after missing a penalty and going from 1-0 up to 2-1 down against Burnley.
But roared on by a white-hot atmosphere, the Black Cats fought back and grabbed the victory thanks to a Carlos Edwards thunderbolt.
4. Returning to the Premier League with a bang
Sunderland were the curtain-raisers to the 2007-08 campaign in a daunting Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Spurs.
Yet after soaking up the sustained pressure from the visitors in a dogged defensive display, Sunderland snatched maximum points at the death through new signing Michael Chopra.
5. The Niall Roadshow
Quinn grasped that there was a substantial number of Sunderland supporters who had grown disenchanted after the 15 and 19 point relegation seasons, and decided to do something about it.
He embarked upon a tour of working men’s clubs to speak about Sunderland’s strategy and hopes. The Black Cats would benefit from a similar approach again.
6. Ending the wait for a Wearside derby win
Sunderland had gone 28 years without recording a home win over Newcastle, before Kieran Richardson’s Exocet missile intervened in 2008.
Richardson’s thunderbolt of a free-kick saw the Stadium of Light explode.
7. Staying up at Newcastle’s expense
It was a slight anti-climax to the 2008-09 campaign when Sunderland suffered a final day defeat to Chelsea, knowing that a win would secure their Premier League status.
But Newcastle’s loss at Aston Villa meant it was the Magpies who plummeted into the Championship.
8. Charity work
Quinn was always very conscious of Sunderland’s responsibilities to the wider community and became a trustee for the Foundation of Light.
The Niall’s Miles initiative to keep schoolchildren active is a legacy of his work.
9. Breaking the bank for Darren Bent
The parting of ways utterly soured public opinion on Bent (and ultimately proved to be a move that ruined the striker’s career).
Yet Sunderland’s record signing proved the heir apparent to Kevin Phillips after netting 25 goals in his first season in red and white.
10. Winning at Chelsea
The unquestionable highlight of the Steve Bruce era was the comprehensive 3-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge, which could easily have been five or six.
League leaders Chelsea had registered maximum points at home, but on that November afternoon, Sunderland took them to pieces.