Summer Madness: Sunderland’s foreign legion. Torre Andre Flo and other duds

Jake: 'just like watching Real?'
Jake: ‘just like watching Real?’

Scarcely a day goes
by without Sunderland being linked to a foreign player. Until proper announcements are made, we have little idea of where rumour ends and fact begins. Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson has seen it all before, albeit not in such numbers. Among them, there have been the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Summer Madness, a series reproducing good reads of the past, has already brought you the Good (
). Here Malcolm recalls some of the imports from SAFC history who were, er, less influential signings …

see the article as it originally appeared in August 2013 at

Choosing my best XI wasn’t so difficult. True I considered, then left out players like Emerson Thome, Carlos Edwards, Lorik Cana and Djibril Cissé but it didn’t cause me too many headaches. Selecting the bad and the ugly took a little longer. Originally, in part two, I was going to highlight those signings who barely mustered a handful of appearances between them, but then thought I’d stick to those who were regular selections but simply no good. In the end I’ve gone for a mix. In the third and final part of the trilogy, the ugly will be a look back at some of the players whose time at the club ended in acrimony or who provided other unforgettable moments. So here we go with:


As Kelvin Davis was a home nations’ player there’s really only one candidate for the keeper’s jersey, and that is Edwin Zoetebier. Eduard “Edwin” Andreas Dominicas Hendrikus Jozeph Zoetebier, to give him his full name only played twice for Sunderland in his time at the club, in the Carling Cup ties at Bury and Middlesbrough. He never seriously challenged Lionel Perez for a starting spot, but he did get a UEFA Cup Winners’ medal when he started for Feyenoord against Borussia Dortmund.

As we all know the full back position has been problematical for our team since the pairings of Chris Makin and Mickey Gray/Julio Arca. A succession of loan players such as Justin Hoyte, Alan Hutton, Patrice Carteron, Nedum Onuoha and of course Danny Rose have supplemented squad members such as Kieran Richardson, Seb Larsson, Jack Colback and Craig Gardner playing out of position. The centre of defence has also seen a number of supposedly quality signings some good, some less so, John Mensah, Baki Mercimek, Kim Heiselberg and Jack Pelter, being names which not so readily spring to mind.

salut sunderland jake

But eventually my chosen back four is made up of Bernt Haas, Paulo da Silva, Stilios Kyrgiakos and Pascal Chimbonda.

If I remember correctly, my first sight of the Viennese born Swiss international “Burnt Arse”, was in a pre-season friendly at the Hawthorns. He impressed me that day but not so much afterwards. He managed 21 appearances in his first season before disappearing on loan to FC Basel.

Paraguayan Paulo Da Silva should not be confused with the Canadian politician of the same name. Mind you if you’ve seen the South American in a Sunderland shirt you’d be forgiven for not being able to tell them apart. One of Steve Bruce’s South Americans who never settled in the North East I did actually see Da Silva play some great games in red and white stripes – but they were on TV and the stripes were those of his national side. He had a couple of decent games for Sunderland but failed to establish himself and appeared increasingly shaky when he was selected. His last appearance was in the FA Cup home defeat to Notts County, which was also the game in which another South American made his full debut. Guess who?

Pony tailed, ex Liverpool, loanee Kyrgiakos came at the same time as Wayne Bridge the first two of several Martin O’Neill temporary signings who did little to strengthen the club and he only made a few appearances. The kindest thing I can say about the big Greek defender is that he provided some cover for the injury prone Matt Kilgallon and Michael Turner.

Frenchman Chimbonda came from Spurs and six months later made the return trip when Ricky Sbragia did some good business recouping the fee that Sunderland had paid in the first place. Disappointing really that a reworking of the Automatics’ song “Who’s that coming down the wing…..Pascal Chimbonda, Pascal Chimbonda” never really caught on. It would have made his time with us more memorable. Latest news is that he is playing for Evo Stick South side Market Drayton.

My first choice in midfield is Danish wonder kid Carsten Fredgaard. I actually saw him score twice at Walsall’s Bescott Stadium but apart from that “Chocolate Fireguard” only made two other appearances for Sunderland. His only league outing came as a substitute in a 0-4 reversal at Chelsea when he replaced the legend that is Kevin Ball. Still at least on the back of the club’s interest in all things Danish at that time my sister and I had an enjoyable trip to the friendly matches at Odense and Vejle.

Next up is Christian Bassila. Another disappointing signing. It has to be said that Bassila struggled with injuries whilst at Sunderland but when he played he hardly set the world on fire. He had a clause in his contract which allowed him to be transferred for free, a clause he invoked after the infamous 15 point season, his departure resulting in much weeping and wailing – but only in Greece to where he was bound.

I can’t leave out Nicolas Medina. Costing the club over £3.5 million he never played a league match and only once made the first XI, starting an FA Cup tie against Bolton, a game which he didn’t finish, being substituted by George McCartney in the closing minutes. I know I was at that game but I don’t remember Medina which says it all I think.

Jalkes washes brightest
Jake washes brightest

My fourth and final midfield “sensation” is Teemu Tainio, the only Finnish player so far to play for The Lads. Tainio was another ex Tottenham player who had had some success at White Hart Lane but he never cut the mustard at the Stadium of Light and was sent on loan to Birmingham City after a mere 21 appearances. His contract was cancelled by mutual consent in 2010 and after only two games in the Eredivisie for Ajax he went Stateside and then back to Finland.

One player stood head and shoulders above the rest when choosing one half of my all time worst import forward line. At this point I will confess that at the time he signed, I expected great things from him but the best I can say about Torre Andre Flo is that at least he was consistent. Problem was he was consistently bad. To be considered worse than Nicklas Bendtner says it all.

Partnering Flo is Lillian Laslandes. Signed by Peter Reid I thought the Frenchman had skill, but it seems as if our then manager wanted him to play the Niall Quinn role, a task to which he was patently unsuited. He never scored in his twelve league outings, his solitary goal coming against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. Signed for £3.5 million and left on a free.

So that’s my second selection. There are some names many of you may have expected to see on the list which aren’t included. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions, but bear in mind I still have to produce my “Ugly XI” which will relate not to physical appearance but to anything that I want it to!

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6 thoughts on “Summer Madness: Sunderland’s foreign legion. Torre Andre Flo and other duds”

  1. Worse than Bendtner ? Thought ‘ the worlds greatest player ‘ did quite well for us and would have liked to sign him permanantly . Flo was an almighty flop though , I seem to remember that we signed Marcus Stewart in the same window , he certainly repaid he’s fee with a decent amount of goals in the promotion season, although what we must have lost on Flo sends a shudder down the spine !

    • My first view of Tyson was at a reserve game and when announced I was scanning the touch line for a hulking man mountain who was going to scare the opposition into defeat . When this tiny man appeared ,the sighs of disbelief and sniggering mixed in with the applause will be my abiding memory of this character . Give him he’s due he ran around a lot and jumped for headers that sailed over he’s head and entertained the crowd , just not in a way that he hoped .

  2. Both Medina and Nunez transfers were shrouded in much gossip – either dodgy scandal of FIFA-type filling your trouser pockets, or scandalous “mistaken identity” cock-ups.

    Acrimonious from start to finish.

    I love the story about the inept Sgt. Wilko asking Flo at a training session whteher he had a boot sponsor, to which the lanky plank replied “Yes.”

    “Can they make your boots lighter then?”

    It was the only thing Wilko ever did that raised a smile on Wearside.

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