Where Are They Now? The Team That Last Played An FA Cup Third Round Game for Sunderland

Sunderland play their first FA Cup Third Round game in five years on Saturday - here's what happened to the players that last turned out for us at this stage

After one particularly bad Sunderland away performance one of my mates said to me: “It’s still always a good day out, I think even if I knew we were going to lose before I set off, I’d have still gone.” Well, in January 2018, the last time Sunderland participated at this stage of the FA Cup, I found myself in as near to this scenario as it is possible to feel.

Going into the short journey down the A19, we were second bottom of the Championship and had just lost to Barnsley, who prior to that game had been winless in 11.

A cup run couldn’t have been further from our minds, which was perhaps exemplified by our decision to start with Donald Love in central midfield as we lost 2-0 in a meek display in which Boro rarely had to get out of second gear. Although, we can at least take some comfort from the fact that two of Middlesbrough’s starting XI that day went on to play for Barcelona.

GK-Jason Steele

In a summer where we hardly spent a penny, we decided to fork out a reported £500,000 on the Newton Aycliffe-born ‘keeper. In Sunderland ‘Til I Die, he stated that after a defeat or bad performance he was in such a bad mood that he refused to speak to his wife or family. Steele rarely played well for the lads and we won just two league games when he started, so they must have considered him an elective mute by the end of the season. After our relegation, Steele left the club and was signed by Brighton, where he occasionally plays in cup competitions and has unbelievably made one Premier League appearance.

LB-Bryan Oviedo

Signed to try and bolster our Premier League survival bid, Oviedo has somehow managed to be relatively well liked among our fanbase, despite being part of a side who achieved back to back relegations. This is seemingly based on the fact that he continued to turn up to work during our League One campaign and deliver a series of mediocre performances against third division footballers. After failing to end his Sunderland career with a promotion he left for FC Copenhagen and after four seasons in Denmark he left for American outfit, Real Salt Lake in 2022.

CB-Marc Wilson

Another one with a great Netflix quotable, Wilson famously declared that he only experienced pain in his leg when he kicked the ball, which as a professional footballer seemed to be somewhat of a drawback. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he didn’t impress on Wearside and left to join Bolton Wanderers on a free in 2018. He then ended his career with a whistle-stop tour of Iceland where he turned out for Þróttur Vogum and IBV.

CB-John O’Shea

After seven seasons of largely consistently solid performances, John O’Shea perhaps deserved better than being part of two of the most humiliating campaigns in our history to end his Sunderland career, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. O’Shea left on a free to join Reading at the end of the season and after retiring was a coach there for two years, before teaming up with Stoke in 2022.

CB-Tyias Browning

A player you sometimes forget even played for Sunderland, Browning has had an unusual career path after leaving the lads. After leaving Everton permanently in 2019, he joined Guangzhou Evergrande in China and now plays for Shanghai Port. Since gaining Chinese citizenship he is also known as Jiang Guangtai and has gained 15 caps for China.

RB-Billy Jones

‘Super Billy Jones’ joined Rotherham after his Sunderland career came to an end in 2018 and after a short loan at Crewe Alexandra in 2021 has not found himself another club. Aged 35, it is unlikely that he’ll ever play professional football again, a great loss to the game I’m sure.

LM-Callum McManaman

The Scouse winger has had something of a nomadic career since the end of the 2018 season. Upon the expiry of his Sunderland contract, he signed for Wigan before enjoying spells at Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and most recently turned out for Tranmere Rovers in League Two.

CM-Donald Love

It is sometimes easy to forget that we signed Donald Love to play Premier League football, Love seemed to have a remarkable talent of managing to look ‘not quite good enough’ regardless of the level he played at. In 2019, Love left for Shrewsbury and has since enjoyed a tour of Lancashire, with Salford and Morecambe.

CM-Ethan Robson

After not being deemed good enough at the end of 2019-20 by Sunderland, it was somewhat ironic that he actually gained promotion twelve months with Blackpool, 12 months earlier than we did. Robson was subsequently loaned out to MK Dons, before joining them on a permanent deal in the summer of 2022.

RM-George Honeyman

Just six months after this defeat to Boro, Honeyman was named Sunderland captain and enjoyed a successful season during our first season in League One. It was therefore something of a shock when he joined Hull City on the eve of our 2019-20 season. After experiencing a relegation and promotion with Hull, he was a key figure as City avoided the drop last season. In the summer of 2022 he signed for Millwall where he has already made a good impression in South London.

ST-Josh Maja

After going from bit part player in the Championship to top scorer and key player in League One, Maja left to join Bordeaux in January 2019, a move which arguably cost us promotion at the first time of asking, where he remains to this day following loan spells with Fulham and Stoke City.


Robbin Ruiter: Ruiter was arguably the pick of the three ‘keepers that turned out for Sunderland that season, but that is a bit like being named most competent Prime Minister of 2022. Ruiter actually remained at the club until the end of the 18-19 season, where he made just one league appearance. The Dutchman joined PSV Eindhoven, where he made just one first team appearance in two years. Upon his release, he signed for Willem II where he lasted two seasons, playing 11 times. In 2022, he signed for Cambur where he has yet to make his debut.

Tom Beadling: Despite being highly rated during his rise through our youth setup, Beadling didn’t play a league game for Sunderland and has bounced about a bit since he left, playing for Dunfermline, Barrow and Western Sydney Wanderers.

Owen Gamble: Gamble left for York City after failing to make an appearance for Sunderland, Gamble didn’t make much of an impact there either and has not featured in the professional game since his York City release in 2021.

Brendan Galloway: Despite arriving from Everton with a reasonable reputation, I have rarely seen a footballer look more out of his depth during his brief stint on Wearside. Although he was here on loan, he largely played for our under 23s, he left Everton in 2019 to join Luton Town and now plies his trade with Plymouth Argyle.

Elliot Embleton: To be honest, I shouldn’t really have to tell you what Elliot is up to these days.

Joel Asoro: After being one of the few bright points of our 2017-18 campaign, there was a lot of disappointment when he left for Swansea in the summer of 2018. After two loan spells at FC Groningen and Genona he departed South Wales for Swedish side Djurgårdens IF where he has scored nine goals in 55 games.

James Vaughan: After becoming the Premier League’s goalscorer aged just 16, Vaughan had something of a journeyman career between then and joining Sunderland. He scored 24 goals for Bury the previous season, but there was precious little of that scoring prowess evidenced in a Sunderland shirt. After six months of arguing with fans on Twitter and ear cupping after long barren spells, he joined Wigan. He ended his career at Portsmouth, Bradford and Tranmere.