Sunderland's new goalkeeping coach opens up on the 'hardest decision' of his career

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Sunderland's new goalkeeping coach Craig Samson has opened up on the 'hardest decision' of his career.

The former St Mirren keeper this week retired from playing at the age of 34 to take up the role at the Academy of Light, replacing Jimmy Walker who moved to Ipswich Town.

Craig Samson is the new Sunderland AFC goalkeeping coach.

Craig Samson is the new Sunderland AFC goalkeeping coach.

Samson has revealed the decision to quit playing and go into coaching was one of the toughest of his career but the chance to work with former Saints boss Jack Ross at Sunderland was too good to turn down.

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In his time at St Mirren, he won the League Cup, the Ladbrokes Championship and broke the record for consecutive clean sheets at home.

He told the Scottish Sun: "It’s been the hardest decision of my career.

"From the moment I heard Sunderland wanted me as their new goalkeeping coach I knew I had some soul-searching to do.

“I love it at St Mirren, the club has been brilliant to me and my family down the years.

“I also feel I have forged a special bond with the supporters.

“Winning the League Cup was amazing, just as it was winning the Championship title last season. These are memories I’ll cherish forever.

“I know there will be some people who maybe aren’t happy with the timing of this. But when I thought about it I just came to the conclusion that this is too big an opportunity for me to turn down.

“In football you have to grab chances when they come your way and I feel this is my chance to step into coaching.

“That’s always something I’ve wanted to do and it just feels like this is right for me and for my family.

“The way I’m thinking about it, opportunities like these to join a massive football club don’t come around every day.

“Like I say, I had a lot to weigh up. When I first spoke to Jack about the position he said he knew it was a lot for me to consider.

“I’m 34 and as a goalkeeper could continue playing for the next three or four years. But equally I could get injured tomorrow and my career would be over.

“I’ve seen that happen to a number of players down the years — in football things can change very quickly.

“But the fact is, this just feels right.

“I had a great relationship with Jack and James Fowler when they were at St Mirren and I also played with John Potter.

“I have a lot of belief and trust in them and they clearly have a lot of faith and trust in me. I now can’t wait to get started at Sunderland and work with their goalkeepers, including Jon McLaughlin who’s been in recent Scotland squads.”

Read more: Follow our live Sunderland AFC blog for the latest news, analysis and reaction
As part of the deal, Sunderland will travel north to play a friendly against St Mirren next summer.