Cult Heroes: Bolo Zenden

by Ashley Houghton

We pay tribute to one of the more popular players of modern times.

It’s not every day that a La Liga, European Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup winner rocks up on Wearside.

Boudewijn 'Bolo' Zenden was just that. The former PSV, Barcelona and Liverpool man signed for the Black Cats in 2009 and went on to make 44 appearances in his two years at the Stadium of Light.

Without doubt, Bolo was one of the most technically gifted players to have worn the famous red and white shirt in the modern era.

Bolo, who was capped 54 times by the Netherlands, played his part in one of the most memorable away days in Sunderland history.

Black Cats fans will remember the 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge not just for the goals from Nedum Onuoha, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck, but for the celebration following Gyan’s goal where Bolo tried his best to imitate the Ghanaian’s moves.

Having struggled to live up to Gyan’s ability on the dancefloor, Bolo never failed in the more important matters on the field.

And, despite the majority of his first 20 Sunderland appearances coming from the bench, Zenden never failed to make an impact with his first Sunderland goal a neat half-volley in a previous defeat at Chelsea.

Bolo’s name will always be in Sunderland folklore after he scored one of the greatest goals the SoL has witnessed - wonder-strike against Spurs in April 2010.

Zenden’s stunning left-foot volley nestled in the top left-hand corner of Heurelho Gomes’ goal in one of the most famous SoL games.

Bolo scored his third goal for the club in a 2-1 victory at Bolton Wanderers in May 2011.

The Dutchman’s goal gave Sunderland the advantage on the stroke of half-time before Sulley Muntari’s injury-time winner ensured Steve Bruce’s side would play in the top flight for a fifth consecutive season.

Zenden announced that he would be leaving the club in the summer of 2011 and bowed out in style with a goal in his final game for the club - a 3-0 victory against West Ham at Upton Park.

Bolo scored a rare header from Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross to open the scoring for Sunderland on the final day of the season, with the Black Cats going on to secure a 10th-place finish in the Barclays Premier League.