Club legend Kevin Ball believes the showpiece friendly with Celtic later this month is ideal preparation ahead of the Championship campaign.
The Black Cats welcome the Scottish giants to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, July 29 (3pm) to mark the 20th anniversary of the Stadium of Light.
Thousands of Celtic fans are expected to make the journey as the Scottish treble winners celebrate 50 years since their famous European Cup win in Lisbon.
Sunderland have invited former players while the ‘Lisbon Lions’ team have also been invited and club legend Ball is looking forward to the game.
Former captain Ball, who made 388 appearances in all competitions for Sunderland, led the side out against Ajax in the friendly to mark the opening of the stadium back in 1997.
And he is relishing the arrival of Celtic to mark the landmark 20th anniversary.
“I think it is a fantastic game,” said club ambassador Ball. “The fact we are celebrating 20 years at the Stadium of Light is great and we should celebrate it, all those fabulous moments over the years.
“It is 50 years since the Lisbon Lions won the European Cup so it’s great to be able to invite them down too.
“We have been hankering after pre-season games at home for a while now. It is a brilliant game to kick the season off on home soil and Celtic will prove a tough test.
“It is a great celebration for us and we are trying to get as many of our former players as we can although it is difficult as many of them are still playing and involved in football.
“It is a great opportunity for everyone to celebrate 20 years at the Stadium of Light.”
Simon Grayson’s new signings, including former Celtic man Aiden McGeady, are also in line for their home debuts in the showpiece friendly.
Adult tickets for the Dafabet Cup game between Sunderland and Celtic are priced at £15, with over 65s able to get to the game for £12 and under 22s priced at £7.
Children under 16 can get a ticket for £5. A family ticket (one adult and one child under 16) in the North West corner is £18.
To buy tickets visit the club website, call 0371 911 1973 (24-hour service) or visit the Stadium of Light ticket office.