Graham signs for Sunderland
Sunderland have completed the signing of Danny Graham from Swansea for £5million.
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19. Danny Graham
The striker has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light, just days after he was booed by some of the Black Cats fans when he appeared against them for the Swans.
Gateshead-born Graham has never made any secret of his affection for the Black Cats' arch-rivals Newcastle and comments he made in a fanzine interview some time ago, in which he was less than complimentary about Sunderland, have not gone down well in the red and white half of the north east.
However, the former Middlesbrough trainee is confident he can prove his doubters wrong as he enters the latest phase of his career.
Graham, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract, said: "Of course, I totally understand that some fans might need convincing about my commitment to Sunderland because of my roots, but I've always given 100 per cent no matter what team I play for and no matter who I play against.
"It's up to me to show people I deserve to wear the Sunderland shirt, and I'm excited about playing for a club as big as this.
"I'm really excited about the future, this is a new phase of my career and I can't wait to get started."
Martyn McFadden, editor of Sunderland fanzine 'A Love Supreme', is also confident that Graham can convince his detractors, who have seen former Magpies Lee Clark and Michael Chopra leave the club under a shadow in recent years, that he has a role to play.
McFadden said: "If he succeeds, he will be welcomed; if he fails, he will be questioned.
"But he will earn himself a lot of money by pulling on that red and white shirt, and that's what a professional football does. He does his job for the club which pays his wages.
"He made some comments earlier in his career which he probably wishes he had never made.
"There's no avoiding the fact that he's Newcastle United fan, but there are not many players, if any, at the club who have an affinity historically with Sunderland Football Club.
"We have people from all over the world, none of whom had ever supported or had any interest in Sunderland Football Club before they started playing for it.
"What he said is unfortunate, but he will just have to work even harder and if he does that, he will be a success and the fans will be happy."
Manager Martin O'Neill, who has repeatedly pointed to the statue erected to former Newcastle player Bob Stokoe to mark the FA Cup triumph to which he led the Black Cats in 1973 as evidence that the void can be bridged, had made Graham his top target for the January transfer window as he looked to bolster his attacking options.
Summer signing Steven Fletcher has shouldered much of the burden to date and his 10 goals have proved invaluable.
But with Fraizer Campbell and Louis Saha allowed to leave the club this month and Ji Dong-won out on loan, Graham's capture was the major focus.
Norwich too were keen and Boro made a late enquiry, but despite having to wait for Swansea to agree to sell as they considered options to replace a player who had found himself behind bargain buy Michu in the pecking order at the Liberty Stadium, they held their nerve and eventually got their man.
Graham said: "As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland, I didn't even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table.
"I was born and brought up in the north-east, so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world - it's special and there's nowhere else like it."