George McCartney last night became 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 deal.
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.
Keane said: "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."
McCartney revealed that his return north was for family reasons as his wife had not settled in the capital.
He said: "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."
However, McCartney looked ahead to his new challenge, saying: "The club has moved on over the last two years and I think there are exciting times ahead."