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Tributes to former Sunderland player Colin Grainger, the colourful 'singing winger' who also starred for Leeds United, Sheffield United and shared stage with The Beatles

Tributes have been paid to former Sunderland player Colin Grainger, a colourful character known as ‘the singing winger’ who once shared a bill with The Beatles, after his death at the age of 89.

By Ross Robertson
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 11:55 am

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Grainger, who also played for Leeds United and Sheffield United, earned a number of England caps and famously scored twice on his international debut against Brazil.

He joined SAFC on February 1957, and was with the club until July 1960, during which time he scored 14 goals in 124 appearances.

But Grainger was also talented with his voice as well as his feet. He signed with the HMV record label and released a single, "This I Know"/"Are You" in 1958.

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He performed on the same bill as The Beatles in 1963 and during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, was surprised with a video call from England skipper Harry Kane.

SAFC club historian Rob Mason said: “At Sunderland, sadly Colin was part of the club’s first ever relegation side. He scored Sunderland’s first ever second division goal at Lincoln.

"In April 1957 he won his seventh and final cap for England while with Sunderland in a Wembley win over a Scotland side that included future Sunderland manager Ian McColl.

"As well as scoring against the next (1958) world champions Brazil Colin also scored against World Cup holders West Germany in Berlin in 1956. He also twice won representative honours for the Football League.”

Former Sheffield United man Colin Grainger was known as 'the singing winger'

Rob said after a ‘lengthy and eventful career in non-league until 1978’, Colin scouted for Barnsley, Leeds, Huddersfield, Oldham, Bury, Plymouth and particularly Sheffield United.

Rob added: “For many years he was a distinctive figure in his long maroon coat watching Sunderland Reserves at Eppleton C.W.”

Colin shared some of his memories in 2019 when he released his autobiography, ‘The Singing Winger.’”

And he had much to remember, having played with some of the true legends of the game.

Former Sheffield United and England player Colin Grainger launched a CD at Bramall Lane

His touching video call from Harry Kane in 2020 was one of the special moments of the pandemic, and revealed some of his memories.

Grainger remembered: “I played with Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Duncan Edwards, Jimmy Hagan of Sheffield United and Len Shackleton of Sunderland.

Screen grab taken from the official England football teams Twitter account (@England) of Harry Kane speaking to Colin Grainger in 2020. PA Photo.

“They were great, great players and I'm proud that I played with those people. I've got some good memories, but my favourite memory is my two goals against Brazil. That's the one.”

The pair discussed their experiences of scoring on their international debuts.

Kane said at the time: "When you make your England debut, it's pretty special. I know that feeling and it doesn't get much better than that."