Played For Both Sides – The players who love both stripes and hoops

Stephen Kennedy takes a look at the players to have turned out for both Sunderland and QPR in their time

Trawling through the list of any player to have ever played for Queens Park Rangers is a harrowing experience, we’ll start with that right from the off. Owing largely to their insane 2010s period of signing literally anyone who has made at least one international appearance for any nation, and, of course, Harry Redknapp’s entire spell in charge, you could feasibly fill most League Two grounds with players to have donned the blue and white hoops over the last 20 years alone.

Weirdly though, there’s only been 17 players at time of counting who have turned out both for QPR and Sunderland, who, admittedly, haven’t been much better at keeping signings sane since the turn of the 21st century. So, with that in mind, I thought we’d take a look at one of the players who turned up out for QPR during their Tony Fernandes madness phase, as well as one of their current line-up who might be familiar to those in red and white.

Djibril Cisse

A true cult hero on Wearside, let’s just start right away by saying that Djibril Cisse was absolutely brilliant for Sunderland; a ferocious talent on the pitch, and utterly mad off it. The French international striker was a statement signing by Roy Keane’s Sunderland back in 2008, fresh off the back of surviving our first season back in the Premier League, Cisse was brought in to add a touch of top flight quality to our attack, coming in on loan from Marseille.

It didn’t take long for the pacy forward to get going, as he scored a late winner on his debut as the Lads picked up their first three points of the season away to Tottenham. This would be something of a pattern with Cisse and Sunderland, as of the 11 goals he scored for us in all competitions, Sunderland would win seven of those games, helping us to important victories over Hull, West Brom, and Blackburn as the season ticked over.

Of course, his most memorable goal in red and white came on 25th October 2008, opening the scoring against Newcastle in the game where the durability of goal nets was truly put to the test by Kieron Richardson’s left foot. Cisse also scored against that lot in the 1-1 draw up the road too, so has the distinction of having scored in and not lost any of the derby games he played in, which is just lovely.

Come the end of his loan spell, Cisse went on a bit of an odyssey of a career, taking in stints at Panathinaikos and Lazio, before heading back to the Premier League in 2012 when he joined Mark Hughes’ QPR for £4.4m. It’s fair to say QPR fans also loved his time with them, as in his first half a season, he made sure no one was bored at Loftus Road; incredibly, he managed to score or get sent off in every one of the eight games he played in during the 11/12 season in London (including a goal in that game against City to decide the title), ultimately helping the club to scrape survival.

His second, and final season at QPR was much more boring, as he was restricted to only 18 league appearances, and goals against three of the most boring Premier League teams you can think of: Reading, Wigan and West Brom. Before the season was through, QPR pretended they hadn’t spent all that money on him, and sent Cisse out on loan to bastion of human rights and World Cup host extraordinaire, Qatar, with Al-Gharafa, then released him at the end of the 12/13 season.

The journeyman career then really took off, as Cisse headed to Kuban Krasnodar in Russia, for a short stint before returning to France, first with Bastia, then Saint-Pierrose; the latter a made up club based in the French territory of Reunion, lovely stuff again. A most likely imagined season was then spent at Vicenza in Italy before a first crack at retirement in 2019…only for Cisse to head back to Panathinaikos in 2021 at the age of 40, although this time the Panathinaikos in question was Panathinaikos Chicago, and he made no appearances; again, just lovely stuff.

Off the pitch, Cisse did wonderfully mad things including setting up his own clothing business with a short lived shop springing up in Sunderland, and, more recently, taking to Twitter and Instagram demanding that he return to Wearside in the wake of Jermain Defoe’s hilarious last dance. God speed Djib.

Jimmy Dunne

It’s not necessarily fair to say Jimmy Dunne’s boring, but when he comes directly after Djibril Cisse, very few are going to look even slightly interesting. Dunne joined Sunderland on loan in 2019, back when we thought we were in year one of our planned one year stay in League One (sweet, blissful ignorance), brought in to shore up the defence after a promising couple of loans out at Barrow, Accrington Stanley and Hearts, from Burnley.

In true Sunderland fashion, things just didn’t turn out as expected, as in the 13 league outings Dunne made in red and white, we kept six clean sheets, which doesn’t sound so bad at first, but we also only won six of those 13 games (and not necessarily the games those clean sheets came in), as we hoofed automatic promotion over the garden fence. Not that this was particularly Dunne’s fault, but he was thrown into a team which was already beginning to wobble, it seems like neither Jack Ross nor Dunne could figure out whether the centre back was supposed to be a ball player or just a big brute and in truth, at that stage of his career, he was neither.

Prone to the occasional lapse in concentration, Dunne largely struggled to assert himself in the team, with performances wavering massively in his short time on Wearside, but he did score in a traditional 1-1 draw, away at Oxford, so that’s nice. Back to Burnley he went at the end of the 18/19 season, but rather than kicking on a level the following year, he was sent back to League One for a loan at Fleetwood which only saw him make nine league outings before heading back to Turf Moor again.

Then, out of the blue, the Irishman found himself on the peripherals of Burnley’s Premier League squad in the 20/21 season, making appearances against Leicester, Southampton and Sheffield United…the Clarets lost all three, albeit Dunne scoring in the former.

Burnley decided to cut losses on Dunne in July 2021, allowing him to leave for QPR for an undisclosed fee. In his first full season, Dunne managed 43 appearances in all competitions, notching three goals along the way as the Hoops finished 11 in the league under Mark Warburton. It looks like Dunne has finally levelled out into the decent Championship defender he was suspected to become way back when we also thought Will Grigg might’ve been a good idea. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see him nodding one in against us from a corner on Saturday.