Jack Ross and Grant Leadbitter react as midfielder seals emotional Sunderland return

Grant Leadbitter has completed his return to Sunderland
Grant Leadbitter has completed his return to Sunderland
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Grant Leadbitter has completed an emotional return to Sunderland.

The 33-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal after rejecting interest from the Championship.

Leadbitter said he is 'buzzing' to be back on Wearside.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be back, I’m buzzing," he said.

“When you’re a born-and-bred Sunderland fan and there’s an opportunity to come back to the football club, well, I was never going to say no I can tell you that.

“I’m here to do a job and help the club. The football club means a lot to me for sentimental reasons, but I’ve spoken to Jack Ross a lot in the last few days, and I’m excited by his plans.

“I share his ambitions and I really can’t wait to get going.”

Leadbitter is also understood to have taken a significant cut in pay to try and help his boyhood club climb back into the Championship.

After graduating from the club's academy, Leadbitter made over 100 appearances for his boyhood club before joining Ipswich Town.

He spent six-and-a-half years on Teesside, a vital figure in their promotion to the Premier League in 2015/16.

Middlesbrough have thanked him for his 'outstanding service'.

Black Cats boss Ross says the move is not for 'sentimental reasons' and believes Leadbitter is more than good enough to have stayed in the second tier of English football.

"We haven’t brought Grant back for sentimental reasons, he could have easily continued his career in the Championship," he said.

“Once I started speaking to him, I had a real feel for how desperate he was to come back to Sunderland, and how much he wants to help take the club back to where he feels it belongs.

“He understands we have a long path ahead of us, but his playing career speaks for itself, and he’s ready to play his part.”