Gus Poyet reflects on Sunderland past including Wembley trip and being seen in Newcastle
Former Sunderland manager Gus Poyet would welcome the chance to manage in England again following a memorable spell at the Stadium of Light.
Poyet led the Black Cats to the League Cup final in 2014, while also pulling off a “miracle” escape from relegation the same year.
And the former Chelsea player has opened up about his time on Wearside, where he enjoyed some of the best moments in his managerial career.
“I’m very fortunate to have worked in football, fortunate to be able to make a difference to people’s lives and bring happiness,” Poyet told the South China Morning Post.
“At Sunderland, fans would see me riding my bike along the beautiful seafront by the North Sea and cars would be beeping me, people would be waving and wishing me well for the next game.
“At Sunderland, I lived in an apartment block and word soon spread. I’d get letters from neighbours saying they were proud that they lived in the same block as the manager of their team.
“We beat Man United away in the League Cup semi-final on penalties. It was 3am when I got home. The neighbours had put a giant Sunderland scarf around the plant in the hallway and there were Sunderland shirts in the windows of my apartment building like you’d see the flags of countries in other parts of the world.”
Poyet, who has managed in Greece, Spain, China and France, since he was sacked by Sunderland in March 2015.
But some of the Uruguayan's most memorable moments came in England, where he admired the passion of supporters - even from opposing fans.
“But once, I’d just left a restaurant when I saw a man change direction and walk across me. ‘Wrong city, t**t,’ he said. He didn’t even think I was worth looking at as he walked off," added Poyet, when talking about a trip to Newcastle.
“I didn’t say a word, but I knew where he was coming from. I quite liked his style. He was so passionate about Newcastle that he didn’t think that the Sunderland manager should be able to walk the streets of his city.”
Poyet is currently out of work after leaving Bordeaux last month, following an emotional bust-up with the club's owners.
However, the Uruguayan is still confident in his own ability and is not ruling out a return to England.
“My teams play well. My teams are organised. My players play for me.
“It’s not easy, there are other good managers out of work, but I’m a better manager after all my recent travels. It’s good to see how other countries work.” But first, there’s still some unpacking to do."