Following the international break last week, as a Sunderland fan, it was a rare change to feel proud of the club’s stars representing their own nations in nearly every corner of the world.
Ranging from African Ghana to South American Paraguay, or British representatives for Scotland, Northern Ireland and the England Under 21s, all of the lads made a great impression, reiterating how far the squad has come in recent months.
The most impressive performer would have to be England Under 21 goalscorer Jordan Henderson, shining for the Young Lions alongside teammate Danny Welbeck. In recent days, Henderson has been linked with other clubs in the Premier League, most notably Manchester City, and I can safely say many Sunderland fans would be thoroughly disappointed to see the midfielder move on.
Not only does he provide an element of flair and class to the midfield, Henderson’s boyhood support of the club adds passion and determination to succeed that I feel the club requires, maintaining the strong link that it currently has with its supporters already.
Elsewhere on international duty, determined full back Phil Bardsley made his international bow in Scotland’s colours against world champions Spain. Bardsley impressed in a tight game and along with a newly fit Craig Gordon, can shine for Craig Levein’s men in the near future.
With the exception of a disappointing weekend for Darren Bent who picked up an injury with England, completing Sunderland’s British contingent was David Healy who once again performed valiantly in Northern Irish colours.
Sunderland are now a team that has players reaching audiences in Africa and South America, with no fewer than four stars representing their home nations. Da Silva, a defender who was outstanding during the World Cup in the summer and Cristian Riveros, an equally as impressive international midfielder played in both fixtures against Australia and New Zeaand with mixed results.
The pair are both valuable squad members to have, yet need time to adapt to the English game, Riveros maybe needing to be a bit quicker on the ball and with distribution, whilst Da Silva has to use his head more to oppose strikers rather than make futile efforts to match them in terms of pace.
When I sat down and watched the FIFA World Cup this summer, I never realised that when watching success story Ghana, that two of their representatives would wear the red and white stripes this season. John Mensah, arguably one of the stars of last season is a class act, simple as that.
He is a top quality defender, who sadly has to deal with persistent injury troubles, and if we can get him fit, will add a lot of quality to the current team. The other star, Asamoah Gyan, never struck me as a potential target when he celebrated a goal by dancing in South Africa, yet when Bruce signed him it felt right to call him a Sunderland player.
Although the result versus Sudan was disappointing, it was a pleasant change to see Sunderland players playing for so many diverse nations around the world, getting goals, showing skill and generally being positive representatives for the club.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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