'A strong mentality' and 'very highly thought of': The inside track on new Sunderland signing Trai Hume as Cats beat Stoke and Celtic to teenage talent
Sunderland have completed their first signing of the January transfer window – but what can fans expect from teenage defender Trai Hume?
The 19-year-old right-back has been praised for his performances at Northern Irish champions Linfield, who are managed by former Black Cats striker David Healy.
Other English clubs, including Stoke, Ipswich and Burnley were credited with interest in Hume, yet Sunderland have completed a deal believed to be in the region of £200,000.
Hume has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract on Wearside – with a club option of a further year.
To find out more about the player we caught up with Steven Beacom, a sports journalist in Northern Ireland, to get the inside track:
How many other clubs were interested in Hume?
SB: “Michael O'Neill at Stoke was looking at making a late entry into the market but I was told the Sunderland thing was basically all but done.
“I do know that Trai was happy to go to Sunderland and that Linfield were happy with the deal.
“Lincoln had a fee accepted in December and then Sunderland came in and that’s where the player preferred to go.
“Before that Celtic were after him in the summer, Ipswich and Burnley had looked at him too, so there has been a lot of interest in this kid.
“It’s not surprising because he’s a quality player.”
What are the main incentives of signing for Sunderland?
SB: “Sunderland is a massive football club.
“Any time I think of Sunderland I think of a big club waiting for something to happen and they should really be playing in the Premier League.
“I would say that for any young player looking at a club like Sunderland, and I know Trai Hume has been over at the Stadium of Light to watch a match – the Sheffield Wednesday game. Watching that, watching the atmosphere, watching how the team played, how could you not be attracted to something like that?
“Everyone talks in football and there is a belief that slowly but surely Sunderland are getting it right after all the years of trouble.
“I think going to Sunderland would be an amazing move for Trai Hume.
What’s Hume’s career been like so far?
SB: “He started out at Linfield which would be like the biggest club in Northern Ireland and came through the ranks
“He was always very highly thought of and David Healy who used to play for Sunderland is the Linfield manager so he kept a very close eye on Trai Hume and improved him as a player.
“He went out on loan to a team called Ballymena United and got regular first team football before coming back to Linfield, and he’s been sensational.
“The thing about Linfield, over here is the pressure is on them to win every single game.
“While experienced players have found that difficult to deal with, that was never a problem for Trai Hume and he took to playing for Linfield straight away.”
"£200,000 is the figure which is being touted about for Sunderland so they should be able to afford that.”
“The thing with Trai Hume is he’s only 19 and he’s got all the tools for a modern-day full-back. He loves to race forward and is very capable of defending.”
What type of player is he?
SB: “He loves to get forward down the right flank, get crosses in, plus getting into the box to score goals.
“Something that really impressed me about him this season was he scored in the two biggest games of the season.
“Linfield and Glentoran is the big derby over here, and Trai Hume scored in both games home and away and was exceptional in both matches.
“This tells me this is a kid who enjoys the massive matches and can live up to them when playing in front of a big crowd – he will obviously get that playing at the Stadium of Light.”
Can he adapt to the demands of League One football?
SB: “It is obviously going to be a jump, a significant jump from playing in the Irish league to League One.
“I always think with a young player it is going to take time to adapt when they come to a new club and he’s obviously going to be in a different country as well.
“Also with big clubs, and I’m sure Sunderland are no different to other big clubs, they do take care of young players so that will help him.
“As well, having people from Northern Ireland already at the club will help him, like he’s got Corry Evans there and Carl Winchester there.
“Northern Ireland people tend to look out for each other and I have no doubt Corry Evans and Carl Winchester will try and help young Trai Hume, and I’m sure the other players will as well.
“Everyone over here thinks this is a boy who can make it in England and why wouldn’t you try to look after a talent like that.
“I think he has a strong mentality and he really, really wants to do well.
“David Healy will have told him what Sunderland is all about as well, this is a fantastic football club, the fans are vocal and will support you if you give everything.
“That is the one thing Trai Hume has consistently done, he gives 100 per cent in every match and in terms of commitment he won’t be lacking when he puts on a red and white shirt.”