Sunderland’s rise to the top of the Championship in 2007 was one of football’s most remarkable stories. If a fiction writer had written it he would have been ridiculed.?Sunderland had been relegated from the Premiership in 2006 with a record-low 15 points. They were then taken over by Drumaville, an Irish consortium headed by legend and centre forward Niall Quinn. But Quinn could not find the ‘world-class’ manager he wanted so he decided to do the job himself, and with Quinn as manager as well as chairman they lost their first five games including a League Cup defeat by Bury from the lowest Division. Then Quinn persuaded his former Irish teammate Roy Keane to take over. With Keane, renowned throughout a long, distinguished career, spotted with controversy, for his uncompromising attitude, sitting in the stands Sunderland beat West Bromwich Albion, their first win of the season. Keane, who had famously fallen out with Quinn over the World Cup in 2002, signed as manager and the ex-Manchester United hard-man led the charge up the league to automatic promotion as champions. Charlie Hurley, voted Sunderland’s best ever player, who wrote the foreword, is also from Cork, like Keane, and he says: “You can feel the buzz is back in Sunderland and you know that Roy really believes it when he says he’s not frightened of Manchester United or Chelsea. Champions next season? Don’t bet against it... He’s a winner. He was a bit of a dirty player now and then but he was a great player and a great leader.” Little did the fans think then that the new messiah would soon be gone.