Date:Friday January 12 2007
Grant Leadbitter has impressed boss Roy Keane so much he has become the first player to earn a contract extension under him.
The local lad has signed a deal that will tie him to Sunderland for another 3 years, til 2009.
Keane said: 'Grant has done really well since I arrived and it's great for the fans to see a local lad come through. His attitude has been brilliant, he's the type of player I want at this football club.'
It is deserved reward for a player who has given 110% every time he has worn the red and white shirt, in particular during last season's torrid affair, when he was one of few players to emerge from it with any credit.
It is for that reason that the Sunderland fans, always keen to see local talent blossom, have taken him to their hearts and are delighted to see the 21 year-old doing well.
And despite some uncertainty over his future at Sunderland during the summer, he always insisted that he wished to stay on Wearside, and Niall Quinn made retaining Leadbitter's service one of the main priorities when he first arrived.
And after thriving under the leadership of Roy Keane, who may well see some of his own former attributes in Leadbitter's tenacious tackling and unrelenting energy, he looks set to stay for a long while yet.
Which is all in stark contrast to the 'billy-big-bollocks' attitude of Ben Alnwick, who, despite also being a local lad developed through the youth setup, never really warmed to the fans given his seemingly inflated ego, which has since seen him get his desired transfer to the Premiership.
Let's hope many of Sunderland's future stars involved in their 5th round FA Youth Cup game this month have more in common with Leadbitter.
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