The news that Vito Mannone was leaving came as Sunderland prepared for the friendly win at Hartlepool. In itself, it was not surprising; nor, given our club’s wretched history in the transfer market in recent years, has been the realisation that we did not appear to have had anyone lined up. With the start of the season so close, that might have seemed a given but then this is SAFC.
Mannone himself leaves after four years with heaps of goodwill. That penalty shoot-out save at Old Trafford that took us to a Wembley final stands out. So do his heroics in a number of vital survival games.
And his farewell to Sunderland supporters, posted at Instagram though I saw it first at the Sunderland Echo website, is so dignified and heartwarming that this should not be an occasion for recalling howlers, at Southampton, the next week at home to Arsenal or elsewhere.
Let us just reproduce his own message:
‘I want to start from that special night (Man Utd, League Cup semi penalty shoot-out) . The roar coming from the stands when I saved that penalty still give me goosebumps – the chant “Oh Vito Mannone” will never leave my head and heart.
You fans just gave me the night that as a kid I always dreamed for, on top of that the final at Wembley, the great escapes against all odds beating massive clubs, the many derby wins, the chance to have met that little special angel Bradley Lowery and the amazing bond with you fans that no matter what you always been there for me and supported me.
I will always be grateful of that, it has been an incredible journey, full of highs and lows, full of people who supported me and people that wanted to get rid of me at all costs but I fought through and that made me just stronger and made me a man.
I have learned so much in the past four years and lived some of the best moments with my wife and my family up in the North East so these memories will be with me forever.
Remember Sunderland fans despite last year and the low that you are living now, you have to look forward. You are the real force of the club and only with your help Sunderland will bounce back where it belongs. “I want to thank all the people and friends I have met along the way from the team mates, coaching staff, medical and fitness departments, cleaners, kitchen staff, media guys, kit men, you guys at the offices and everyone that work or worked at the club. “You made me feel at home and I felt you were part of my family. You fans will always be in my heart as you made me give 100 per cent anytime I was wearing a Sunderland shirt and ultimately enjoy the game I love the most.
Now I am sad I close one chapter at Sunderland but so excited to open a new one with my family at Reading with the hope to fulfil even more dreams and live many more special moments in my new adventure. “I will give my all as usual. Good luck to the boys and to all the people related to Sunderland #hawaythelads see you soon.’
Good luck Vito. Reading will get great effort and not a little goalkeeping brilliance from you.