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FEATURE: 15 random former Sunderland players you probably didn't know still work in football

By Michael Graham,


You might have forgotten half of these players even played for Sunderland, but they are still involved in football today across the globe.

Have you ever sat around and found your mind drifting towards random former Sunderland players and wondering what they are doing now? I have, but you are probably not as sad as me.

Not all former footballers stay inside the game after they retire, but some do. Football is littered with players who once represented Sunderland on the pitch that have now transitioned into other roles.

Some, of course, we know about. Dean Whitehead at Cardiff, John O’Shea at Stoke, Lee Cattermole at Middlesbrough, Alex Rae at Reading, and so on.

What about the others, though? What about the more obscure ones? Well, here are 15 former Sunderland players you may not know are still working in football today.

Craig Gardner

We’ll start off with a relatively well-known one and get to the truly randoms a little later.

Gardner was a likeable and loyal player at Sunderland, but it was always the Midlands that had his heart. He is back there now as the technical Director of Birmingham City.

He is essentially their Kristjaan Speakman, if you like.

Eric Roy

Another former Sunderland midfielder has just made his return to management with Ligue 1 side Brest. Eric Roy has been around football since he retired, working as a pundit between jobs.

He was at Nice for a while in a variety of roles, including head coach before it ended in a gross misconduct charge. He won his appeal for wrongful dismissal, though.

He has since had sporting director roles at Lens and Watford before taking over coaching duties at Brest last month.

Paul Thirlwell

When Roy was at Sunderland, he often partnered academy product Paul Thirlwell in the centre of midfield.

Thirlwell played most of his career at Carlisle United, though, and even had a short spell as player-manager.

Since 2016 he has been the assistant manager of Harrogate Town and is doing very well there given their rise through the levels.

Patrice Carteron

It would be fair to describe Patrice Carteron the player as ‘nomadic.’ By that I just mean he was very rarely in the right back position he was supposed to be in. Mind, we never complained about that when he scored a derby goal against Newcastle.

His managerial career has certainly been nomadic too. He is currently at his 13 th club in 15 years. Carteron started his managerial career at Cannes and has had spells in charge of Dijon, Mali and Phoenix Rising.

He is currently at Saudi club Al-Ettifaq and, to be fair, his win-percentage throughout his career is very impressive.

Bernt Haas

Bernt Haas was the player Sunderland bought to replace Carteron, although he didn’t last long himself.

Haas was an okay player, just a step short of Premier League level. He had a good career at Grasshopper Zurich, Basel and West Brom though.

He is now back at Grasshopper as their sporting director following similar roles at Vaduz and Schaffhausen.

Teemu Tainio

Teemu Tainio was a quality footballer but never really robust enough to be relied upon.

Before playing for Sunderland he was at Auxerre and Tottenham, and he played for Ajax and New York RB after leaving Wearside, so his talent can never be disputed.

He is back at another of his former clubs, FC Haka, now. He is the manager after stepping up from an assistant role in January 2019.

Christian Bassila

You could easily be forgiven for forgetting about Christian Bassila. He was an alright player but he was at Sunderland in that horrible 15-point season.

After retiring he had a brief foray into management as the coach of the Lyon B side, but he has certainly got an impressive job for himself now.

He is the head of youth development at the famous Clairefontaine national academy in France.

Thomas Myhre

Without a doubt, Thomas Myhre is one of the most underrated goalkeepers Sunderland have ever had in my lifetime. He had hands the size of frying pans and was as dependable as the come.

He retired in 2011 after a long career, and it took him a while to get back into the game. He eventually resurfaced at Norwegian second division club Moss FK as Director of Football.

Inside of a year he had appointed himself assistant manager, and a few months after that he was the manager. He’s doing pretty well too.

Stern John

Sunderland was just one of many clubs Stern John played for in his career, but he was a very handy striker for Roy Keane’s championship winners.

He has stayed around in football too. He had various coaching roles with the Trinidad and Tobago national team and a short spell in charge of Central FC and Anguilla.

In May 2022 he was appointed the manager of the Saint Lucia national team.

David Healy

David Healy didn’t do much at Sunderland in the grand scheme of things, but he is a veritable Northern Irish legend.

He has back in his homeland now and has been the manager of Linfield since 2015.

That means he was the manager who sold Sunderland Trai Hume, which may be the best thing he ever did for the club.

George McCartney

Healy has a well-established coaching staff at Linfield, and that includes former Sunderland full-back George McCartney.

McCartney was a ‘yo-yo- player.’ He started at Sunderland, then went to West Ham. Then Sunderland bought him back from West Ham, before West Ham signed him again. Aside from two loan spells at Leeds, that was his career.

He is first-team coach at Linfield, so will have played a big role in Hume’s development.

Anthony Le Tallec

Anthony Le Tallec, like Bassila, was another of the 15-point season lot. That doesn’t just make him forgettable, it means we have spent years specifically trying to forget them.

He joined on-loan from Liverpool for the season and wasn’t too bad.

Le Tallec is not long retired and he is just starting a coaching career. He is the youth coach at French second division club FC Annecy.

Jurgen Macho

Jurgen Macho was a bit of a character, wasn’t he. Used to love to throw himself around and make flamboyant saves, yet was more afraid of crosses than Dracula.

He came to Sunderland on a free transfer and got himself a move to Chelsea to be their number two, or maybe three, for a while when he left.

Macho started his career at Rapid Vienna and had a second spell with them after Chelsea. He is back there again as their goalkeeper coach.

Tobias Hysen

Tobias Hysen was one of those frustrating ones where he was a quality player yet couldn’t settle at Sunderland for whatever reason.

He was really impressive for Sunderland on the left-wing under Roy Keane but he was homesick for Sweden and went back there. Such a shame but fair enough.

Hysen is still in Swedish football, and is the assistant manager of third division club Tvaakers IF.

Darren Ward

Darren Ward was seriously unheralded at Sunderland but played an enormous role in the great Championship season under Roy Keane.

He has had a brilliant coaching career since, and is credited with developing Dean Henderson into a Premier League player after working with him at Sheffield United.

He is now the goalkeeper coach of the England Lionesses, so he has played a part in their incredible successes of late.

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