Why ex-Sunderland stopper Jordan Pickford owes a big debt to Burton Albion

Jordan Pickford owes a large debt to Burton Albion
Jordan Pickford owes a large debt to Burton Albion
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While Sunderland and Burton Albion have spent most of their existence at opposite ends of the footballing pyramid, there are a few common links between the two sides.

For there are several players who have spent time at both the Stadium of Light and Pirelli Stadium during their careers - and some will be very familiar names.

Perhaps the most obvious is current Everton star and England international Jordan Pickford, who spent time on loan at the Pirelli Stadium in his fledgling years.

Having already spent time away from the club at Darlington and Alfreton, Pickford teamed-up with the Brewers in August 2013 and signed a three-month loan deal.

He made 12 appearances at the club and later enjoyed spells with Carlisle, Bradford and Preston before establishing himself as Sunderland’s first choice - later earning a big-money move to Everton.

Indeed, Pickford has gone on to speak highly of his time at the Pirelli Stadium, claiming that the hard slog in Staffordshire helped prepare him for his eventual rise to the top.

“I’ve always said that my hardest loan spell was at Burton,” he admitted, speaking to The FA.

“Moving away from home and friends and family for the first time.

“Whenever I spoke to my coach at the time, Mark Prudhoe, we always said that was the hardest one.”

Two players who have made the move more recently are Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan who joined the Black Cats this summer after spending time in Staffordshire.

Flanagan spent three seasons with Burton after joining from MK Dons in 2015 and played a key part in the Brewers’ promotion from League One in 2016.

He went on to make 82 appearances for the club, scoring twice.

While at Burton, Flanagan played alongside stopper McLaughlin - who has proved to be a fine recruit since joining the Black Cats this summer.

McLaughlin spent slightly longer at the Pirelli Stadium after making the switch from Bradford City.

The goalkeeper racked up 144 appearances during a three-year stint at the club before departing for Hearts - where he spent just one year before making the move to Wearside.

Rory Delap is another who has spent time with both clubs after his career ended at Burton.

Delap - whose trademark long-throws remain his main legacy - joined the Black Cats on a free transfer in January 2006 but struggled for regular first team opportunities.

He joined Stoke City on loan later in the year and eventually made the move permanent, later spending time at Barnsley before joining Burton in 2013 - where he made just six league starts during a one-year spell.

Fellow midfielder Adam Reed has also played for both, although his time at Sunderland was largely spent in the youth and reserve teams.

The youngster had several loan spells away from the Stadium of Light - at the likes of Brentford, Bradford and Portsmouth - before signing for the Brewers upon his release in 2013.

But after just five first team appearances in Staffordshire, Reed departed and can now be found plying his trade in the Phillipines with Davao Aguilas.

And finally, who could forget Darren Bent. The ex-England striker was a big-money buy for the Black Cats in 2009, but left under a cloud in 2011 as he signed for Aston Villa.

The 34-year-old spent last season at Burton - netting against the Black Cats in April - and has recently claimed that he wants to sign for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.