Lee Cattermole wants to leave a legacy at Sunderland and take the Black Cats back to the heights of the Peter Reid era.
Sunderland’s longest-serving first-teamer is about to enter his sixth season at the Stadium of Light after penning a new five-year deal at the club during the summer.
If you spend enough time somewhere, you fall in love with itLee Cattermole
Cattermole – who will lead Sunderland out in Saturday’s Premier League opener at Leicester if Younes Kaboul is preferred to captain John O’Shea – has finished in the top half of the table just once during his time on Wearside; enduring near-brushes with relegation in each of the last three seasons.
But Cattermole is not content for Sunderland to be annual strugglers and has outlined a passionate plan for where he wants the club to go in the duration of his new contract.
Cattermole said: “This feels like my club. If you spend enough time somewhere, you fall in love with it.
“This place has definitely got me and for the years I’m going to be here now, it’ll be a long period and it’ll play a big part in my life.
“(The new contract) was a no-brainer because I feel like I’ve got an opportunity to help take the club somewhere special, and I want to be a part of that.
“It’s a brilliant club with a massive fanbase, but we’re underachieving at the moment.
“We need to look to push on and get back to the kind of heights that the club enjoyed in the Peter Reid era.
“They finished seventh or eighth back then, and if you can finish in or around there, then that’s progress, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be competing with where Swansea, Stoke and Southampton are.
“You look at clubs like that, and that has to be the target for us. Throw in a decent cup run, and that’s where the club has to look to be.
“It’s getting great backing from the owner, and the fans are following us all around the country like they always do.
“I don’t want to just plod out my career, spreading my time around five or six different clubs. I could have done that, but here I feel like I have a chance to be remembered and that was a massive thing.
“I want to make sure when I leave that people still remember me, and that means helping the club achieve something really special.”
Cattermole believes there is a much-improved structure at the club now though than there has been at times during his Sunderland career.
Dick Advocaat’s return during the summer and the head coach’s positive relationship with sporting director Lee Congerton, has been complemented by fresh arrivals, and the prospect of more on their way.
And certainly, Sunderland’s outlook is healthier than two years ago when Cattermole was an outcast under former boss Paolo Di Canio, and ill-equipped recruits were brought in.
“In terms of the team, I think this is the best group of players now that I’ve ever been a part of here,” he added.
“It was only two years ago that I lost my squad number, but I can see that a lot has changed since then.
“You can’t make massive improvements overnight, but I believe in the structure of the club at the minute and where the people in charge want to go.
“We sat down before I signed and everything they were telling me was great.
“Over the next couple of seasons, we have to really try to make a name for ourselves.
“That’s the important thing, we don’t want to just keep plodding along and staying in the league.
“We want to try to build something, and I just want to make sure that the players that come here know that we want to try to look to push on.”