Today, Friday August 14th 2020, Lee Barry Cattermole has hung up his boots and retired from professional football. The enigmatic character, like him or loathe him, became a stalwart at the SAFC.
Lee started his career down the A19 at the Boro making his debut against the Mags on the 2nd January 2006, helping his club pick up a point in a 2-2 draw and collecting the man of the match award along the way.
Lee spent three seasons at the Boro, which featured an appearance in the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, he also became the youngest club captain at the age of 18 years. In July 2008 he joined Wigan for £3.5m.
His term at Wigan was cut short and on 12th August 2009 after it was announced that Cattermole had completed a medical at Sunderland and joined the lads on four-year deal for £6m. The precedent was set in his first season as he picked up various man of the match awards along with an equal amount of injuries.
Two days before the start of the 2010-11 season Lee was handed the captain’s armband following the departure of Lorik Cana.
The start of the 2013–14 season saw Cattermole stripped of his captaincy by Paolo Di Canio, who handed the armband to John O'Shea and his number 6 shirt went to new signing Cabral. Cattermole was assigned the number 33 jersey. He scored his first league goal for Sunderland in a 5–1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on 7 April 2014.
Cattermole regained his number 6 shirt at the start of the 2014–15 season, and scored Sunderland's first goal of the season, with a 25-yard strike in a 2–2 draw away to West Brom. On 2 July 2015, Catts signed a five-year contract extension with Sunderland, committing his future to the club until 2021.
After missing most of the 2016–17 season through injury, Cattermole returned to the first team late in the campaign against Arsenal at the Emirates on 16 May 2017 as the Black Cats were defeated 2–0 thanks to a brace from Alexis Sánchez. Cattermole suffered relegation with Sunderland as the club finished bottom of the table on just 24 points, ending our ten-year stint in the top-flight.
Following two consecutive relegations and various injuries Catts found himself In League One, an all-time low for the club and Lee alike. The 2018-19 season gifted us two Wembley appearances. On 31 March 2019, during the EFL Trophy final against Portsmouth, Cattermole's penalty was saved by Craig MacGillivray in a 5-4 loss on penalties for Sunderland following a 2–2 draw after extra time. In typical Catts fashion he dusted himself and down as we still had promotion to go for. After the game he said “It was a brilliant game, and I felt good stepping up. It never even entered my head that I might miss the penalty, I never thought I’d miss it. It was disappointing, but hopefully we’ll go back there and set up a different ending. That’s the aim.”
Within 56 days Lee had his chance to relinquish that demon as we progressed to the Play off final at Wembley against Charlton. It wasn’t to be. Charlton scored with virtually the last kick of the game as they recovered from conceding an extraordinary early own goal to beat Sunderland in the League One play-off final at Wembley.
The play off final turned out to be his last game in red and white. On 1 July 2019, it was announced that Catts would leave Sunderland after having spent ten years at the club. Cattermole explained in the announcement that "it is the right time to find a new challenge". He subsequently had a trial with Eredivisie side VVV-Venlo in August and joined the Dutch outfit.
Looking back over his career at the club, it’s safe to say Lee wasn’t the best natural footballer, but he made up for this in other departments. The fans warmed to his no-nonsense approach, his gun-ho attitude and his desire to lead. He gave 100% in every game; however this is something we should expect from any player at the club.
Catts will be remembered for many things at the club, but none more so than “that” tackle on Colback at the SOL on October 25th 2015. The images of Jack curled up the on the turf, with Lee glancing down still circulate around social media to this day.
In summary Catts has had a mixed career splattered with red cards and lengthy injuries. Like most footballers he has had highs and his fair share of lows along the way.
I’m sure he will return to the club at some point, in some capacity.
Yellow Cards: 91
Red Cards: 7
With this in mind, I say, Cheers for the memories Lee and see you soon.