From Northern League to England - Sunderland star Anthony Patterson hailed after maiden Three Lions call-up

The Black Cats goalkeeper’s call-up has been praised by the man that oversaw his time in the Northern League’s top tier.

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Anthony Patterson’s journey from a loan spell in the Northern League to becoming Sunderland number one and international recognition has been hailed by the man that gave him experience in the ninth tier of English football.

The Black Cats stopper has been in fine form over the last year and his progression has now been rewarded with a maiden call-up to the England Under-21s squad ahead of an upcoming friendly double-header.

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Lee Carsley’s side will face a France squad containing the likes of Chelsea defender Benoit Badiashile and Leeds United keeper Illian Meslier at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium next Saturday afternoon before taking on Croatia at Fulham’s Craven Cottage three days later.

That is all a far cry from Patterson’s maiden steps into the senior game when he enjoyed a promising ‘work experience’ loan spell with Ebac Northern League club Sunderland RCA during the last two months of the 2018/19 season. Then just 18-years-old, the Tyneside-born stopper kept three clean sheets and conceded just four goals in seven appearances after making his debut in a 4-1 home win against Consett.

He followed a well-worn path from the Academy of Light to the Ryhope-based club after fellow academy goalkeepers James Talbot and Michael Woud also had impressive loan stints at Sunderland LGV Park before going on to earn international recognition with Republic of Ireland and New Zealand respectively.

Patterson will now follow his fellow stoppers into the international game and his progression has praised by RCA manager Martin Swales, just over four years since he gave the Black Cats youngster his maiden appearance in the Northern League’s top tier after a previous spell with Division Two side Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.

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He told The Echo: “You could see Anthony’s quality as soon as he turned up to training. He was a bit quiet, he was really unassuming, but we had Tom Howard on loan from Sunderland at the same time and he brought him out of his shell a bit. We had already had James Talbot and Michael Woud on loan as young keepers from Sunderland and they have both gone on to become international footballers. Patto didn’t seem as confident at first but he grew into it.

“It’s funny to think looking back at the time we had to pick him up to take him to training and back because he couldn’t drive at the time but now he is going on to represent his country and play for Sunderland on a regular basis. But the one thing you could never knock was his attitude because he never missed training, he loved training, he bonded with the lads in the dressing room and he really excelled for us.

“He was a proper ambassador for Sunderland RCA and for Sunderland during his time with us. The club are delighted to see where he is now, it’s wonderful to see what he is doing and I am sure he has a lot of good years ahead of him because he is only young for a keeper.”

Sunderland RCA are back in action on Saturday afternoon when they host Crook Town at Sunderland LGV Park.