City award for Quinn

by Stuart Vose

Niall becomes Honourary Freeman of Sunderland at special ceremony.

Niall Quinn officially became an Honourary Freeman of the City of Sunderland at a special ceremony on Monday evening.

Quinn joined Joel Batteux – the mayor of French twin town Saint-Nazaire - in the council chamber to receive the award, which is the highest level of recognition which can be granted by the city council.

This award sums up the 17 years I’ve been connected with Sunderland and all the good things which have happened to me

- Niall Quinn

The pair were awarded Honourary Freeman status in recognition of outstanding contributions to the city.

Quinn was cited for his ‘contribution to city life, and his role as a champion of Sunderland’.

He first joined the club as a player in 1996 and went on to take up roles as chairman and a director as well as a brief spell as manager.

“This award sums up the 17 years I’ve been connected with Sunderland and all the good things which have happened to me,” said Quinn, who was at the Stadium of Light for the 1-0 win over another of his former clubs, Manchester City.

“I’ve had an unbelievable time. Other people have worked far harder than me behind the scenes.

“I always felt I was just steering the bus a little bit and the hard work was being done elsewhere.”

Various members of the council spoke in tribute to the two recipients before the official documents were signed in the presence of the mayor.

FA Cup winner Micky Horswill was also in the crowd to see Quinn and Batteux honoured.

Quinn at a glance

  • Joined Sunderland for £1.3m in August 1996
  • Scored 71 goals in 222 appearances
  • Netted 21 times during title-winning 1998-99 season
  • Made final career appearance v West Ham in October 2002
  • Became chairman in summer 2006 following Drumaville takeover

“I’m very humbled, though I’m not so sure I deserve this award,” Quinn added. “I am extremely proud, as are my family.

“You can win medals, lose finals, lose play-offs, but days like this are a step outside the football world.

“I’m absolutely humbled by this and it means an awful lot.”

The leader of Sunderland City Council, Paul Watson, added: “Here are two notable individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Sunderland and life in our city.

“These freedoms formally seal the relationships between the nominees and the City of Sunderland and recognise their contributions to the well-being and community spirit of the city.”