Belfast Telegraph

McCartney: It’s great to be back at Sunderland

By Stuart McKinley

George McCartney has become the most expensive player in Northern Ireland football history.

Two years after leaving Sunderland for West Ham United the 27-year-old has returned to the Stadium of Light in a £6million package.

The fee paid by Black Cats’ boss Roy Keane outweighs the sum that Celtic paid for Neil Lennon over seven years ago by £250,000 as Sunderland continue to splash the cash.

McCartney is looking forward to a bright future with Sunderland - who he believes have made great strides since he left to join West Ham.

Signing a five year deal, McCartney is Keane's 10th signing of the summer, joining the likes of Djibril Cisse, El-Hadji Diouf, and Northern Ireland team-mate David Healy.

McCartney will also link up with former Hammers team-mate Anton Ferdinand, who moved to Wearside last week.

McCartney told the club's official website, "It's a great move for me and great to be back at Sunderland.

"The club has moved on over the last two years and I think there are exciting times ahead.

"The fans were always good to me and I hope that will continue and that we can have a good season.

"The club has changed a lot since I left but there are still a few familiar faces around, I can't wait to get going."

McCartney came through the academy at Sunderland and made his senior debut in a 3-0 League Cup win against Luton in September 2000.

He made 157 appearances for the Black Cats before moving to West Ham two summers ago.

The Belfast man was an ever-present for the east Londoners last season and he signed a new five-year deal earlier this year.

The club rejected Sunderland's initial approach earlier in the summer but the player handed in a written transfer request.

McCartney, though, revealed on the Hammers website his return north was for family reasons as his wife had not settled in the capital.

He explained: “I had two great seasons with West Ham and I'd like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to play for a club with the history they have and their fantastic supporters. But for personal reasons alone, this move is right for me."

Keane said of McCartney's return: "It's great to be able to bring George back to Sunderland.

"I've made no secret of the positions I've been looking to strengthen and a left-back was one of my priorities, I'm delighted.

"George's experience will prove invaluable and he shouldn't take long to settle in as he knows a lot of the lads already and obviously he knows the club inside out.”

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