On this day in Tuscany, Italy, Emanuele Giaccherini was born. He played 43 times for the Black Cats and was part of the magical 13/14 squad that took us to Wembley and dared us to dream.
He started his career out in Italy, which was where he spent the majority of his career, only leaving the country to play for us. Privileged. He began playing for third division Italian club Cesena FC. After some loans he came back to Cesena and helped them into the Serie A, staying for another year before making a big move to Juventus.
He signed for the Bianconeri for €3 million but it was a 50/50 contract with his former club, so they still owned 50% of his contract. Eventually they paid a further €4.25 million to own 100% of his contract. He played alongside some fantastic players such as Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal under the highly esteemed Antonio Conte.
He won a league title with Juve unbeaten and reached the final of the Coppa Italia only to lose to one of his future clubs Napoli. They exacted revenge on Napoli at the start of the new season in the Supercoppa Italiana, which is pretty much our version of the Community Shield. They also captured another Scudetti that season.
In classic Italian football fashion they were struggling for cash after just winning the league again, so they had to offload some players in the coming window so they got rid of several players, one of those being Giaccherini.
He joined the Lads in the mad summer of 2013, joining his fellow countryman Paolo di Canio. He was one of 13 signings as the club experimented with a transfer policy of bringing absolutely anyone through the door.
On Wearside, his debut came in a 1-0 defeat at Fulham, despite dominating on the opening day of the season. Giaccherini didn’t have to wait long for his first goal for the Lads, scoring a header away to Southampton just two minutes into the next match.
When di Canio was sacked in September after just 13 games in charge, Sunderland legend Kevin Ball stepped in as caretaker. He played a strong squad at Peterborough in the League Cup, with Giaccherini converting Lee Cattermole’s cross to score the first of a 2-0 win.
He carried his goalscoring form into the league, scoring against Liverpool in a 3-1 defeat at the SoL. Giaccherini’s fourth and final goal for the Lads was a stunning volley against Arsenal, although it was a late consolation as we were swept aside 4-1 by the Gunners.
He appeared as a late substitute for Lee Cattermole in the 2014 League Cup final, but couldn’t help us push for an equaliser, before being hit on the break late on.
The diminutive Italian had a better impact from the bench at the Etihad though, setting up both of Connor Wickham’s goals as we earned a 2-2 draw which kickstarted the ‘Great Escape’.
A week later, Giaccherini helped himself to a goal and another assist from the bench as Sunderland put fellow strugglers Cardiff to the sword, with a resounding 4-0 home win.
Injuries plagued the Italian’s second season on Wearside, making just eight appearances. He was then loaned back to Italy at the start of the 2015/16 season, joining newly-promoted Bologna. He managed to get his career back on track and made 28 appearances, chipping in with seven goals.
A permanent move to Napoli followed, now 31 years old, in the summer of 2016. He would look back on his Sunderland spell with disappointment, failing to nail down a regular spot in the starting 11. He showed great potential, always playing with pace, but sadly never flourished.
Giaccherini announced his retirement in 2021 after a stint at Chievo, at the age of 36.