Sunderland Legends Marco GabbiadiniAlthough born in Nottingham, Marco is basically a York Lad; having played junior football for Poppleton Juniors, Denis Smith, (him again!), signed him as an apprentice at York City in 1982. After progressing through the ranks, Marco was awarded a pro contract for the 1984/85 season. Whilst Marco impressed at York, scoring about once every 4 games, he was very young and raw…….. it was only when he was reunited with his Mentor, Denis Smith in 1987, that Marco really fulfilled his potential. In 1987/88, Marco had progressed from being young and raw to displaying pace and power, that was at times unstoppable. He was top scorer with 21 goals in 35 games, as Sunderland cruised to the Division 3 title. It could of course be argued that a club like Sunderland should be winning the title in the 3rd tier at the first attempt with ease….. but we’ll leave that one there for now eh? A familiar site at Roker Park
Marco Gabbiadini Top GoalscorerThe following season, despite being a league higher, Marco continued to bang the goals in, scoring 23 goals in all competitions. This total was particularly impressive given he missed 11 games through suspension, the bulk of which was for landing one on the Ipswich keeper. He was the first ever Sunderland player to be awarded the North East Football Writers Player Of the Year, (wonder if I’ll get an invite to that in May 2020?)
G ForceMarco had a fantastic strike partnership with Eric Gates, they just complemented each other so well. Marco’s 3rd season on Wearside really saw him propelled to Legendary Status. He was once again the top scorer, including a breathtaking hat trick vs Watford in September 1989……….. but, on Wednesday 16th May 1990, prior to the best World Cup in my lifetime, he scored the 2nd goal to at Sid James Park to send Sunderland to Wembley
One of the best goals ever, in possibly the best kit everSadly SAFC forgot to turn up at Wembley, (fancy that eh?), although it was only 1-0, Swindon were miles the better team. A week or so later, we were promoted anyway as Swindon were found guilty of Financial Irregularities. Bit of a back door promotion, but on a positive note, it really hurt them idiots up the road, who’d delighted in us gassing it at Wembley.
Sunderland Legends Marco Gabbiadini1990/91 was Marco’s 4th season on Wearside and a mere 3 years on from plying his trade at York, he was leading the line in Division One, (EPL in new money kids). With Eric Gates departed and replaced by Peter Davenport, Marco found it tough going, scoring 9 goals in 31 appearances and the Lads were relegated come what May. Back in Division 2, Marco stared the 91/92 season well – firing 5 goals in 9 games, the highlight being a six minute hat trick at Upton Park vs Charlton Athletic. Four days later we lost 2-1 at home to Grimsby Town….. this turned out to be Marco’s last game for Sunderland, as after 4 years on Wearside, (£80’000 well spent Denis), an offer of £1.8 million was accepted from Palace. Marco was bought to replace Ian Wright who’d left Palace to join Arsenal, (no pressure then Marco?). So he was gone…….. like so many SAFC heroes he’s found his way back, he is a regular talking about SAFC on BBC Radio Newcastle and at the games.
Marco Gabbiadini Sunderland Legend
Sunderland AFC – “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”