Flying Dutchman profiled.
Dutch master Bolo Zenden became a firm fans’ favourite during almost two season on Wearside.
Vastly experienced, possessor of a lovely touch on the ball and a consummate athlete, Zenden was a calming influence and one of the strongest characters in the dressing room.
The midfielder had done and seen it all upon his arrival on Wearside, having rubbed shoulders with Europe’s elite since beginning his career as a youngster with PSV.
He also starred for Barcelona, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Marseille, winning silverware galore along the way.
There was success at international level, too, with Zenden representing the Netherlands at the 1998 World Cup as well as the European Championship tournaments of both 2000 and 2004.
Zenden was 33 when he joined Sunderland in October 2009 after leaving Marseille, and he would prove to be a shrewd acquisition having arrived on a free transfer.
He made his debut in a 1-0 win over former club Liverpool at the Stadium of Light and finished the season with two goals in 21 appearances – one a stunning volley late on in a 3-1 home victory against Spurs.
The Dutchman featured a further 29 times the following season as Sunderland achieved a 10th-place finish in the Barclays Premier League.
Having confirmed his departure at the end of the campaign, Zenden netted two goals in the final three games of the season, including an emotional sign-off with a looping header against West Ham on the final day.
Zenden, who later became assistant manager to Rafael Benitez at Chelsea, retired with more than 400 league appearances to his name, plus 54 senior international caps.