David Bellion is a name that may rile up some of the Sunderland faithful still after all these years.
The striker, despite his young age, looked destined to have a bright and successful future at the Stadium of Light as he impressed in a campaign that the club were pretty woeful in as they suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2002/03.
The Black Cats had offered Bellion a new contract to extend his time with them, however, the Frenchman decided against committing his future to the club and made it no secret that he would leave if an offer from a big club came in (via Sky Sports).
“I admitted to the coach Wilkinson that if I get the chance to leave, I will seize it,” he said, with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain thought to have been interested at the time.
And, as we all know, a move to Old Trafford eventually happened that summer, although it was not without its controversy.
Sunderland took the deal to a tribunal in order to ask for compensation costs they felt entitled to for the youngster (Sky Sports) and received a package of up to £3million in costs with a settlement being reached outside of court (Sky Sports).
The move to Manchester United was meant to bring the best out of Bellion, however, a transfer that promised so much appeared to bring a huge amount of disappointment.
He managed just four goals in 24 appearances across his three-year spell at Old Trafford, whilst a loan spell at West Ham United did not help him find his feet in English football either.
He returned to France in 2006 when he joined Nice on a permanent deal after a successful loan switch before securing a move to Bordeaux, where he had a fruitful seven-year stay.
Bellion would end his career with Red Star in the lower echelons of French football before deciding to call it a day in 2016.
For a player who enjoyed his time at Sunderland and claimed: “It was one of the best times of my life” (Newcastle Chronicle); that big move to Manchester United certainly ruined his career, as he finds himself working in an art gallery (via The Mirror).
Sunderland fans, were you disappointed when Bellion decided to leave you? Let us know your thoughts!
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