The big Lewis Grabban interview: Sunderland’s new signing opens up on swapping Bournemouth for the North East

Lewis Grabban holds up a shirt that marks 20 years of the Stadium of Light.
Lewis Grabban holds up a shirt that marks 20 years of the Stadium of Light.
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Lewis Grabban did not need Jermain Defoe to convince him to move to Wearside.

Defoe’s arrival on the South Coast may have signalled the end of his time at Bournemouth definitively, but in truth it was already all but over.

Grabban was prepared to move on. Like it did for Defoe over two years ago, Sunderland offered a chance to resurrect a career drifting, a chance for a born and bred Southerner to up sticks and rebuild.

“I actually didn’t speak to Jermain, I’ve mainly been training with the U23s at Bournemouth. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him but to be honest, I didn’t really need to. When the club came in I wanted the move, I didn’t need anyone to convince me,” Grabban said.

“When I spoke to the manager he did say that for someone from the South to be happy to come up all this way, that shows a lot. It was pouring yesterday when I got here so I know what to expect! I spent a bit of time in Scotland when I was younger and it reminds me a bit of that.

“I was born and raised in the South but to be honest it really wasn’t a factor for me. I thought coming up here would be good for me, to focus solely on football without distractions. I think it is a good time for me to get away and just get my football back on track.”

Grabban brings a versatility his manager craves, goal scoring threat but also an ability to create from deep and carry the ball up field.

With just one pre-season game under his belt so far, the 29-year-old is short of match fitness but when he gets it, his record suggests he will pose a threat for any opponent in the second tier.

“I try to just be an all round forward, I like to get the ball and take people on but it is about scoring and getting assists, always trying to be a threat to the opposition defence. That is my game and it is about working hard as well,” he said.

“You need more than one person chipping in with goals, you need three or four that are able to score goals in the team. Hopefully I’ll be one of the players who can do that.

“Early on in my career I played out wide most of the time, it wasn’t really until the first time I went to Bournemouth that I was played as a real central striker. I’ve also spent a lot of time playing as the number ten and I’ve even had a couple of games in central midfield so moving into different systems isn’t going to be a problem.”

Grabban joins James Vaughan and youngsters Josh Maja and Joel Asoro in a new look strike force tasked with getting Sunderland back into the Premier League.

More may arrive, but Grabban believes the squad is in good shape for the challenge ahead.

As for the striker himself, a ‘stop start’ loan spell at Reading has got the competitive juices flowing again.

After a long spell out of first team action, Grabban had the chance to lead the line at Wembley in the play-off final, Disappointment followed, but so did enthusiasm for the next challenge.

He said: “It would have been nice to win that [play-off final], it was disappointing on the day but it was a good taste of being in a real game, a real competitive scenario again. It has led onto this season and hopefully we can achieve even more than Reading did.

“When big clubs get relegated, their ambition tends to be to get straight back and I thought out of the clubs in the league, Sunderland are really well equipped to do that. They’ve got the history and to date they’ve kept most of the squad together, so all of those were positives.

“It reminds me a bit of Norwich when they came back down and I joined. They kept most of their squad and it gives you a lot of experience. When the season starts and people get into the mode, the squad is definitely capable of getting out of the league.”

Tickets for the Celtic game are available from the Stadium of Light ticket office, priced at £15 for adults, with over 65s just £12 and under 22s £7. Children under 16 can get a ticket for just £5. A family ticket (one adult & one child under 16) in the north-west corner of the stadium is available for £18.