Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Cattermole and Leadbitter on opposite sides of the derby equation
TODAY'S Capital One Cup fourth-round tie between Sunderland and Middlesbrough will have special resonance for two of the players preparing to line up in midfield. Sunderland's Lee Cattermole and Boro's Grant Leadbitter used to play for their opponents. Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson took the duo on a walk down memory lane
What are your memories of growing up in your opponents' academy?
LC: I was with Adam (Johnson) yesterday and we were talking about how much respect we have for Middlesbrough as a club. It's where our football education came from. They taught us how to do things right and we learned a lot. They gave us a chance and it's a great club to start your career at.
Dave Parnaby was fantastic for all the young lads. He had such a strength about him. He was the boss, and you were well scared of him, but he was great for us as young players. He kept us on the straight and narrow. He's a real winner and instils that in you. He has his rules – I wasn't allowed to swear on the pitch, he would drag me off if I did. He's very intelligent about the game.
GL: I joined Sunderland when I was seven so it was a massive part of my life. There are quite a few coaches still there at the football club who I owe a big debt of thanks to. I still speak to Ged McNamee quite a bit and he's absolutely top drawer. He's probably the person I'm looking forward to seeing the most.
Bally (Kevin Ball) was another big influence, although he was still a player for a lot of the time when I was growing up. They have some good staff there and it'll be nice to go back and see them. Most of all though, it'll be nice to go back and win.
What made you leave, and do you feel it was the right time to depart?
LC: It was the right time to leave. I'd played 20 or 25 games in the season before I left at right midfield, and people know I don't really have a trick so it was a long season for me. I found myself on the bench the following season and just felt it was time to go.
I'd played a lot of games at a young age, but it was time for a new challenge. It was a big decision, but I don't really look back with any regrets. Looking back, I was just a kid. I captained the club at 18 and played against Roma in the Stadio Olimipco when I was just 17. Most other people at that age are still at college.
GL: I think everyone knows the situation I was going through at the time when I left Sunderland (Leadbitter's father, Brian, died suddenly the previous autumn and his ashes were buried beneath the pitch at the Stadium of Light). I felt that as a person, I needed to move away from the area.
Things happened in my private life off the pitch and I wanted to move on. I moved away, and I think that was a big thing in terms of becoming my own person. I knew what I wanted in life and to get that, it was important to move away. It helped me a lot.
Do you still look out for your former club's results? How do you feel they are doing?
LC: Middlesbrough will always be close to my heart and I will always be asking after them. You move around in football, but I will always remember my time at Middlesbrough very fondly.
They've made great strides this season, and brought in some good players in (Jonathan) Woodgate, Leadbitter and (Stuart) Parnaby. They have a great manager in Tony (Mowbray) and I'm sure the chairman wants to get them back into the Premier League.
It's a small town with a big football club, so they are always going to have high expectations and I'm sure Tony wants them back in the Premier League. They are getting closer. Four wins in a row is a great achievement in that division. If you do that in any league, you will find yourself at the top end of the table.
GL: Of course I still look out for Sunderland's results, it's the first thing I do. I was brought up as a season-ticket holder since I was three years old. That was just the way I was raised. When you've done that, you always look out for how they're doing.
Sunderland are a good team with internationals all over the park. They've brought in the likes of (Adam) Johnson, who's an excellent player, and (Steven) Fletcher, who's already scored a lot of goals. They've got Catts (Cattermole) in the middle of the park and everyone knows what a great job he does. It'll be a good test for us.
Have you played against your previous club before and are you looking forward to the experience?
LC: I was delighted when we drew Middlesbrough last year (in the FA Cup), but I pulled my hamstring on the Friday before the game and had to sit it out. I also missed the return leg at Middlesbrough.
I've played them twice since leaving though. When I first went back to Boro with Wigan, that was the most nervous I've been before a game. It feels a bit different this time around because I haven't been getting home too much. There'll be 3,000 Boro fans here and I'm sure I'll know most of them. I'm sure I'll get booed, but then again I get booed most places I go.
GL: Since I left, I've never even been back to the stadium to watch a game. It'll be my first time back in the ground. I'm not the type of person who would keep going back and showing my face around the place once I had left. I moved away and moved on. But I'm looking forward to going back there and playing.
It'll be a good occasion. I had some special moments and Sunderland is a big part of my life. It's been a big part of my life since I was a three-year-old.
How do you see tonight's game going?
LC: Boro will be no pushover. They did well in both games last year. It's a cup game so it doesn't matter what league you are in.
It's a massive week for us. The season feels as if it's just starting now. We have a chance to be in the quarter-final of the cup and then we have a big home game against Villa at the weekend. If we win those games, suddenly the season looks a lot brighter.
People say we're not quite firing at the moment, but we're not worried about the lack of goals. We have quality in the side, but just have to be patient. We are still picking up points against some tough teams. We've only lost to Manchester City so that's not a bad record.
GL: Promotion has to be our priority. The club's aim is to try and get back in the Premier League, and we'd take that over any cup run. But we want to go there and win because it will help carry on the momentum we have in the squad. We've been winning games and that creates momentum, but you have to sustain it.
I want to win trophies, and everyone in that dressing room is the same. To do that, we have to go to Sunderland and win to get in the next round. It'll be a tough game though. As the old cliché says, it's a local derby with a lot at stake. The fans will be pumped up for the game and I'm sure the players will be too. I suppose they're the home team and they'll be a bit disappointed they didn't beat Newcastle last week. It's another local derby and they'll want to win.
Comments are closed on this article.