Gary Bennett - Q&A

Living now: Sunderland
Born: 1961
Occupation now: BBC Radio Summariser, Show Racism The Red Card CoOrdinator

As a youngster, who was the biggest influence on your career?
My brother, my parents, Tony Book.

How did you come to join Sunderland?
I came from Cardiff City for £65,000 & another £20,000 after 40 games; I'd played for Len Ashurst at Cardiff City before he was appointed manager of Sunderland.

How do you remember your Sunderland debut?
I remember it very well as I scored after 2 minutes against Southampton. The 'keeper was a certain Peter Shilton, we went on to win 3-1.

What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player?
I had quite a few memorable games. Milk Cup, FA Cup, Play Offs, Centenary Finals - all at Wembley.
There was also the play-offs against Newcastle and the Gillingham game when we were relegated.
Scoring the winner in the last minute against Man Utd, scoring at Maine Rd in front of 16,000 away supporters and my testimonial against Glasgow Rangers.

And the worst?
Getting beat 3-1 by Newcastle at St James Park. And being relegated to the old Third Division.

Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland?
That one against Man United. My best save was against Spurs in the FA Cup - unfortunately I get sent off for it!

Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland?
There was a few - all for different reasons. The most exciting was Marco Gabbiadini.

Who was the best you player against?
Again, numerous. Gary Lineker, Ian Rush, Jurgen Klinsmann.

What’s the greatest moment of your playing career?
Having my debut for Sunderland. The cup finals, promotions and having my testimonial.

Who do you rate as the best manager you player under?
Difficult one. I had the privilege to have Bob Stokoe as a caretaker manager for a while, but I think Denis Smith.

What was the funniest incident you recall during a game?
It's got to be John Kay being tackled by a Leicester City player. He jumped to his feet to address the player, but - in frustration - grabbed the referee instead because he was the first within reaching distance!

What was the best part of being a professional footballer?
Everything. being able to represent and play for one of the best supported clubs in the country.

And the worst?
Losing a game. No matter what, football in the north east is a big part of life and you can't ignore that ... it's the main topic of conversation everywhere.

Looking back at your playing career, any regrets?
No. I think I've been fortunate to achieve playing in cup finals for such a big club at the highest level.


Team (as a kid) - Man City & Man Utd
Boyhood footballing idol - George Best, Pele
Best friend in football - My brother, Dave
Favourite ground (other than Roker) - Wembley, Old Trafford
Favourite current premiership player - Thierry Henry & Frank Lampard
Favourite [former] premiership manager - Jose Mourhino
Singer - Mary J Blige
Film star - Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman
Film - Shawshank Redemption
TV programme - Shameless
Past-time (except football) - Keeping up with my kids & grand-kids
Food - Italian
Holiday - Jamaica

If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
Mohammed Ali.