The world’s biggest footballing spectacle kicked off last night, and once again there will be representation from Wearside.
Bryan Oviedo (Costa Rica) and Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia) will be flying the flag for Sunderland in Russia this summer – and they will certainly be hoping to fare better than previous Black Cats have on the world stage.
No Sunderland player has ever progressed beyond the last eight of the competition, despite some spirited efforts.
We cast our eye over all 13 players to have taken part in a World Cup while at Sunderland – and their differing fortunes:
Billy Bingham (Northern Ireland, 1958)
The first-ever Sunderland player to visit the World Cup, Bingham actually scored the decisive goal in qualifying to ensure that his nation qualified for the tournament.
Northern Ireland had a fairly successful tournament as they beat Czechoslovakia and drew with West Germany to qualify for the knockout stages where they were beaten 4-0 by an impressive France.
Bingham later managed his home country, but failed to guide them to a World Cup while in the dugout.
Anderson, who sadly passed away this week, remains the only Sunderland player to be called up for an England World Cup squad.
While the popular midfielder didn’t make it on to the pitch during the tournament in Chile, he was part of the squad that lost 3-1 to Brazil in the knockout stages.
Thomas Sorensen (Denmark, 2002)
After 40 years without a Sunderland player at a World Cup, there was an abundance of them in Japan and South Korea.
Sorensen, having been long in the shadow of Peter Schmeichel on the national stage, excelled at the tournament as he helped Denmark to beat France and Uruguay in a tough group.
But Sorensen’s tournament stay was short-lived, as England knocked the Danes out in the last 16.
Claudio Reyna (USA, 2002)
Captain of his country at the tournament, Reyna helped the USA out of a tough group including hosts South Korea and Portugal – despite missing the first game through injury.
The midfielder didn’t miss a minute after the first game as he helped his country to one of their greatest-ever tournaments.
Arguably the surprise package of the tournament alongside Senegal, Reyna and the States progressed all the way to the last eight before being beaten by runners-up Germany.
Patrick M’Boma (Cameroon, 2002)
After spending the end of the 2001/02 season on loan at Sunderland from Parma, M’Boma then jetted off to the World Cup with Cameroon.
Partnering Samuel Eto’o up top, the striker netted in a 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland and featured in all three group games.
Cameroon couldn’t qualify from the group, however, and M’Boma then made a move to Al-Ittihad.
Jason McAteer, Kevin Kilbane, Niall Quinn (Republic of Ireland, 2002)
Another surprise package in 2002 were the Republic of Ireland, who had three Sunderland players in their ranks.
While Quinn was something of a bit-part player – albeit making a big impact in the draw against Germany – Kilbane and McAteer featured in every game.
Mick McCarthy’s side progressed out their group and into the last sixteen where they were beaten by a strong Spanish side on penalties – with Kilbane missing the decisive penalty.
John Mensah (Ghana, 2010)
A long-term loanee at Sunderland, Mensah captained Ghana and played every game as they defied expectations at the tournament in South Africa.
The Black Stars qualified from their group behind Germany, and beat the USA in the knockout to set up a quarter-final clash with Uruguay.
But after taking the Luis Suarez-inspired side to penalties, Mensah was one of the Ghana players to miss from the spot as they crashed out the tournament.
Paulo Da Silva and Cristian Riveros (Paraguay, 2010)
Riveros only joined Sunderland weeks before the 2010 tournament began, but was quickly acquainted with new teammate Paulo Da Silva on the national stage.
The duo were regulars for Paraguay as they progressed to the quarter-final stage, with Da Silva even setting up a Riveros goal in a 2-0 win over Slovakia.
Their tournament ended at the hands of eventual champions Spain, with David Villa netting the sole goal in a last-eight win.
Jozy Altidore (2014, USA)
Despite being largely unpopular during his spell at the Stadium of Light, Altidore is highly-thought of in the States and was unsurprisingly called-up in 2014.
But his tournament was brought to a premature end when, in the opening game of the tournament against Ghana, the striker picked up a hamstring injury.
That saw the striker leave the tournament early while his nation progressed to the last 16 before being beaten by Belgium.
Ki Sung-Yeung (2014, South Korea)
Another player who spent time on loan at Sunderland in the build-up to the tournament, Ki featured in all three of his sides’ group games.
But it was a tournament to forget for South Korea, who picked up a sole point in the group stages. Defeats to Algeria and Belgium sent them out at the first hurdle, although Ki caught the eye with his performances.