Build-up to Bent return begins
Former Sunderland hero Darren Bent makes his first return to the Stadium of Light this weekend as his Aston Villa outfit visit.
Bent's £24m move to the Midlands came after Villa's visit to SOL last season and so this will be the England striker's first opportunity to return to his old stomping ground.
Having arrived in August 2009, Bent earnt himself a place in the hearts of Sunderland fans with an impressive 32 league goals from just 58 league starts as a Black Cat.
A further four goals were also notched in just five F.A and League Cup starts for the club.
Despite his impressive record in the North East, the former Charlton and Spurs men left in acrimonious circumstances with a number of supporters suggesting the move was motivated by money. Bent recently refuted this claim in an interview with The Times:
'The mercenary thing hurt. It wasn't too long ago that I left Charlton Athletic and could have gone to West Ham for triple the wages. I sadi no because I wanted to play for Tottenham. That's [money] not what motivates me.'
Bent also spoke of the strong rapport he had with Black Cat's supporters:
'I'm so grateful to the fans and the club for what they did for me. Whatever happens, I wouldn't celebrate if I scored a goal, no badge-kissing or anything like that, simply because I had such good times up there.'
Manager Steve Bruce has also had his two pennyworth, saying that Bent 'could have been a Sunderland great' if he'd have stayed at SOL.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Bruce said:
"He could have been, in my opinion, one of the greats of Sunderland, and I`m talking about up there with the very best goalscorers in the club`s history, if he had hung around.
"The way he had started at Sunderland, I`m convinced that had he been willing to commit a substantial part of his career to the club he would have broken a lot of records and gone on to be a major figure in the club`s history.'
Most important of all though is to remember that this is all history now and the only thing that matters on Saturday is collecting back-to-back three points against a very hit-and-miss Villains side.