Salut! Sunderland extends a warm welcome to Jeremain Lens, our new signing from what Pete Sixsmith prefers to call Dinamo Kyiv, Monsieur Salut was effusive at ESPN – “precisely the player Sunderland lacked all last season, a man with the flair and pace to open up defences, set up strikers with chances and score goals” – and now Sixer introduces us to the player and the man …
The first major target of the transfer window was signed, sealed and delivered last night when Jeremain Lens penned a deal at the Stadium of Light, leaving the magnificent 70,000-capacity Valeri Lobanovskyi Dynamo Stadium for the only slightly less magnificent Stadium of Light.
He also leaves a country riven by civil war for the relative safety of the Costa del Wearside – unless he stumbles into Southwick on a Saturday night.
Here are some facts about the second Jer(e)main – [or nearly; I foresee endless problems with spelling here – Ed] – to sign for Sunderland in the last six months. You wait 136 years for a Jermain and then, like buses, two come along at once.
* He is 5’10” tall, the same height as Mark Proctor and Frankie Grey, who were both in the side that slumped into the Third Division 28 years ago, and Harold Buckle, a winger – like this Jer(e)main but not the other one – who signed for us in 1902 from Cliftonville FC in Belfast, a far cry from Dinamo Kyiv.
Harold played 46 times for the Lads, scoring 15 goals and, after leaving us, played for Portsmouth, Coventry City and Belfast Celtic before retiring and resuming his work in the shipyards of Belfast. The fact that he played for Belfast Celtic indicates that he was a Catholic and the yards on the Lurgan were almost exclusively Protestant. All the Lads says that “as one of the few Catholics so employed, he endured an amount of persecution”. I can well believe it.
* Jeremain was born in Suriname, a one-time Dutch colony on the South American mainland and next door to the one-time British colony of Guyana. Ruud Gullitt, he of the Great Shearer Dropping, also had Surinamese heritage
* He has played for the “Cheese Farmers” (AZ 67 Alkmaar), the Light Bulbs (PSV Eindhoven) and a team founded by the notorious head of Lenin’s Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky (Dynamo Kiev). The Black Cats should be an easy one for him after that lot
* He has a tradition of playing in red and white – AZ wear shirts like Arsenal’s and PSV are a red and white striped team – so again, he will feel at home after a couple of years in the white of Dinamo
* He has an impressive set of tattoos, in case that’s your thing. Arms and torso appear to be covered and he has “Kiss Me” engraved on the inside of his lower lip and a gold tooth. Stan Anderson had FTM tattooed on his fingers and Cecil Irwin had hunting scenes all over his back, but neither approached the artistic qualities of Jeremain. Look forward to some body art rivalry with Messrs Fletcher and Wickham
* His collection of medals is as impressive as his tats. He has an Eredivise winners medal with AZ, a KNVB Cup winner’s medal with PSV and Ukrainian Premier League and cup winner’s medal with Dinamo. He would hope to add something while he is at Sunderland – let’s hope it is not a Football League Championship Winner’s gong
* He is certainly the first Sunderland player to be named after a component part of a camera. I looked in vain for a Billy Aperture or an Arthur Shutter but none could be found. There is a Norman Case who played for us just after the war, but I will save him in case we sign a French full back called Portmanteau.
* On a site called Transfer Markt, he is regarded as comparable to Kevin Miralles, Yala Bolassie and Diego Perotti. Read into that whatever you will
* He becomes the fourth Dutch player to appear for Sunderland – Bolo Zenden, Edwin Zoetebier and Loek Ursem. Hopefully, he will follow in Bolo’s footsteps rather than those of the other two
* He has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Is this a good thing?
Welcome to Sunderland, Jeremain. We look forward to seeing the best of you.
Sunderland Out West: a great team of new Salut! Sunderland friends in the USA and Canada savour the delights and disappointments of a pre-season tour: catch the craic at https://safc.blog/category/sunderland-out-west-2015/