New Year’s Day 2021 marked nine years since Sunderland famously beat Man City with a stoppage time winner from Ji Dong Won. This article will look at the starting XI that day and where they are now.
GK: SIMON MIGNOLET
The Belgian signed from Sint-Truiden in June 2010 for a fee of £2 million. He became first-choice goalkeeper on arrival and was Man of the Match in his debut against Birmingham. He was instrumental in the victory against City with a number of fine saves. His performances at Sunderland earned him a lot of praise and a number of admirers. In June 2013 Mignolet signed for Liverpool for £9 million. Saving a penalty on debut against Stoke, Mignolet was first choice keeper at Liverpool for a number of years. However, he lost his place to Loris Karius in 2016. After regaining his place Mignolet lost it once more to Alisson in 2018. In August 2019 Mignolet signed for Belgian side Club Brugge, for a reported fee of £6.4 million. At present he is the Belgian club’s first choice keeper.
RB: CRAIG GARDNER
Gardner signed for a fee, believed to be about £6 million, in June 2011. Gardner was a make shift right back against Manchester City on New Year's Day 2012 due to an injury crisis, and helped the lads to the shock 1-0 win. In 2014 Gardner left after his contract expired and joined West Brom. He later signed for Birmingham in January 2017 and became a player coach in November 2019. Gardner finished the season in joint charge of Birmingham with Steve Spooner after the sacking of Pep Clotet. Gardner’s playing contract expired in July 2020 and he initially remained in his role as coach after Aitor Karanka was appointed. In November 2020 Gardner joined the coaching staff at Sheffield Wednesday under Tony Pulis. However, Pulis’s sacking a few days ago leaves Gardner in a precarious position.
CB: JOHN O’SHEA
O’Shea signed for an undisclosed fee alongside Wes Brown in the summer of 2011. Winner of countless trophies including Premier League’s and Champions League’s with Manchester United, O’Shea will have enjoyed the victory over his former clubs rivals. The Irishmen stayed at Sunderland until our relegation from the Championship in 2018. He then signed for Reading the same summer and retired there at the end of the 2018/19 season. In July 2019 he became a first team coach at Reading and is still in his role at present.
CB: WES BROWN
Plagued by injuries at Sunderland, Brown rarely got to show the ability he had at Manchester United. Brown only managed 25 minutes against City before a groin injury forced him off. Brown’s season was then ended a few weeks after this game as he was injured again in a FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough. In September 2016 he signed for Blackburn Rovers before joining Indian side Kerala Blasters in 2017. He has since went on to be part of the Blackburn Under 23’s coaching team.
LB: JACK COLBACK
Normally playing in centre midfield Colback was used as a left back against City. Due to the defensive injury crisis he was used at left back a number of times in the following weeks. After refusing to sign a new contract in June 2014, Colback signed for Newcastle on a free transfer. Colback moved to his boyhood club around four months after shushing the Gallowgate End after scoring in the Tyne-Wear derby. The move caused significant controversy with Sunderland releasing a statement describing the transfer as leaving a ‘bitter taste’. Colback went onto make over 100 appearances for Newcastle but was loaned out to Nottingham Forest for the end of the 2017/18 campaign and the full 2018/19 campaign. Colback was released in June 2020 after being deemed surplus to requirements. He signed for Nottingham Forest in August 2020.
RM: SEBASTIAN LARSSON
A first team regular during his time with the Black Cats Larsson was either taking a set piece or arguing with the referee. Larsson played the full 90 minutes despite having the flu. Larsson didn’t train in the week leading up to the game but still gave his all, something he always did at Sunderland. After his contract ending coincided with our relegation from the Premier League in 2017 he went on to sign for Hull City. In 2018 Larsson returned to his native Sweden to play for AIK where he is still playing.
CM: LEE CATTERMOLE
Lee Barry Cattermole. Love him or loathe him Cattermole wore his heart on his sleeve and was never afraid from diving into a tackle. Cattermole commanded the midfield that day with a gutsy performance. He remained a key figure at Sunderland even after our relegation to League One in 2018. In July 2019 Cattermole announced his departure from Sunderland after ten years at the club. He signed for Dutch side VVV- Venlo in August 2019. He was released in May 2020 and has since retired.
CM: DAVID VAUGHAN
Vaughan joined the lads on a free transfer in June 2011 after his contract at Blackpool expired. He played 82 minutes against City, largely helping the makeshift defence keep City out, before being replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady. However, Vaughan’s best memory at Sunderland has to be his screamer in the Tyne-Wear derby in April 2013. After falling out of favour with new manager Gus Poyet, Vaughan signed on loan for Nottingham Forest in October 2013. Vaughan signed permanently at the end of the 2013/14 season when his Sunderland contract expired. After being released by Forest in 2018, Vaughan signed for Forest’s rivals Notts County. He was released by County after one season. After retiring from professional football Vaughan joined Crewe as an academy coach in September 2020.
LM: JAMES MCCLEAN
McClean joined in August 2011 for £350,000 but spent the first half of the season in the reverse squad. New manager Martin O’Neill handed McClean his first appearance, coming on as a second half substitute against Blackburn. McClean’s introduction was seen as the catalyst for the comeback win. McClean made his first start for Sunderland in the game against City and played the ball to Ji before his one two with Sessegnon for the winner. McClean’s refusal to wear a poppy in November 2012 led to him falling out of favour with some Sunderland fans. Regarding the incident McClean said he was ‘hung out to dry by Sunderland’. McClean left in August 2013 and signed for Wigan. After Wigan’s relegation to League One in 2015 McClean signed for West Brom for £1.5 million. In October 2015 McClean was involved in controversy once again. After West Brom’s 3-0 victory over Sunderland McClean goaded the travelling Sunderland supporters, which led to an altercation with Danny Graham and Lee Cattermole. In July 2018 McClean signed for Stoke for £5 million and was named supporters Player of the Year for the 2019/20 season.
ST: STEPHANE SESSEGNON
One of the most technically gifted footballers to play at the Stadium of Light. Sessegnon signed from Paris Saint-Germain in January 2011 for £6 million. Sessegnon played off the shoulder of Bendtner against City and missed a great opportunity with the score at 0-0. After a Bendtner flick on Sessegnon was put through on goal but fired his shot wide of the post. Sessegnon redeemed himself by setting up Ji’s winner in the dying moments with a neat one two. Sessegnon continued to impress at Sunderland scoring the winner against Middlesbrough in Feb 2012 before winning the Player of the Season award for the 2011/12 season. Sessegnon also scored in the Tyne-Wear derby with a low daisy cutter that trickled past Tim Krul into the net. Sessegnon was sold to West Brom in September 2013 by manager Paolo di Canio and the decision still baffles me today. Sessegnon joined West Brom for a club record fee of £5.5 million and unsurprisingly scored for his new club against Sunderland a few weeks later. After being released by West Brom Sessegnon signed for Montpellier before going on to sign for Turkish Super Lig side Gençlerbirliği.
ST: NICKLAS BENDTNER
Bendtner signed from Arsenal on Deadline Day in 2011 on a season long loan deal. His loan spell was a success as he finished the season as Sunderland’s top scorer in the Premier League with eight goals. Bendtner missed a one on one early on in the game, he tried to take the ball round Joe Hart but the City keeper smothered the ball at his feet. Bendtner made way for Ji in the 78th minute after an unselfish performance. At the end of the season he went back to Arsenal before going on to sign for Juventus on loan in 2012. Bendtner left Arsenal in 2014 and signed for Wolfsburg. He then went onto play Nottingham Forest, Rosenborg and Copenhagen. In August 2020 Bendtner signed for Tarnby FF, who play in the Danish 4th division. Bendtner plays for the M+32 ‘Old Boys’ team.
Kilgallon signed from Sheffield United in January 2010 but struggled for game time at the Stadium of Light. He was loaned out to Middlesbrough for the first half of the 2010/11 season and Doncaster for the second half. After Steve Bruce’s dismissal Martin O’Neill brought Kilgallon back into the squad. Against City Kilgallon made first SAFC appearance since May 2010 coming on as a substitute for Wes Brown. He and the makeshift back four managed to shut out City’s star-studded attack. Kilgallon left in July 2013 and signed for Blackburn Rovers. After three years at Ewood Park Kilgallon signed for Bradford before going onto to play for Scottish side Hamilton. Kilgallon has also played in India for Hyderabad FC and in August 2020 he signed for Northern Premier League side Buxton.
The Egyptian signed on a season-long loan in July 2010 and made the move permanent in June 2011 for £2 million. After being a first team regular under Steve Bruce Elmohamady fell out of favour under Martin O’Neill. Against City Elmohamady came on as a 82nd minute substitute to provide fresh legs. In August 2012 he moved to Hull City on loan and reunited with Steve Bruce. He made the move permanent in June 2013. Elmohamady won promotion to the Prem with Hull via the play offs in May 2016. Elmohamady re-united with Steve Bruce once more when he signed for Aston Villa in July 2017. The Egyptian won another Championship Play Off final in May 2019. Currently Elmohamady is still at Villa and has made three appearances in the Premier League this season.
Ji signed from Jeonnam Dragons for £2million in June 2011 after impressing Steve Bruce with his performances at the 2011 Asian Cup. Ji scored four times and provided two assists in six games. However he failed to make an impact at Sunderland and looked out of his depth. Against City he came on as a substitute in the 78th minute and wrote himself into Sunderland folklore. Ji played a neat one two with Sessegnon before rounding Joe Hart and passing the ball into the empty net. For a brief second it looked like Ji was going to fall over and miss the chance and to be honest I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had.
My memories of the goal is having to chase after my Dad because he had abandoned me to join in the celebrations on the side of the pitch. VAR would have ruled the goal out as Ji was offside but Sunderland can count their blessings that technology wasn’t that advanced in 2012. Despite this goal being Ji’s second and final goal of a largely unsuccessful spell for Sunderland he has still managed to achieve a cult hero status amongst SAFC fans. Ji had two loan spells with FC Augsburg in 2013 and 2014, before going on to sign for Borussia Dortmund. Ji never made a first team appearance for Dortmund but played five times for their reserve team. Ji returned to FC Augsburg in 2015 before going on to sign for Mainz 05 in 2019. However It’s unlikely his career will have a better moment than his goal against City.