phil gray

Player of the Day: Phil Gray

Published:
by Ashley Houghton

Northern Irish striker in Thursday's spotlight.

Northern Ireland international striker Phil Gray spent three years on Wearside between 1993 and 1996 and led the Black Cats’ goal-scoring chart for the majority of his time in the north-east.

Gray began his career in English football with Tottenham Hostpur who picked him up as a youngster from Ballyclare.

And, after six years at Spurs, which included loan spells with both Barnsley and Fulham, the Belfast-born striker joined Luton in 1991.

Gray scored 19 of Luton’s 48 league goals in his second campaign with the Hatters before joining the Black Cats in July 1993.

Gray’s debut was delayed after he was involved in a car crash and, despite missing the first four games of the season, he would still go on to lead the Sunderland goal-scoring charts with 17 goals in 49 games in all competitions.

The following campaign saw the departure of Gray’s strike partner Don Goodman who was replaced by local hero Martin Smith. Smith and Gray continued the previous pairings’ form with 25 goals between them.

Gray notched 15 of those goals to lead the club’s scoring charts for a second consecutive campaign.

Peter Reid’s first full season in charge of the Black Cats resulted in promotion to the top flight with Gray chipping in with nine goals in 34 appearances.

Craig Russell topped the goal-scoring charts for Sunderland as Gray picked up an injury in February and ended up leaving Wearside for France at the end of the season.

Gray joined Nancy Lorraine before joining Dutch side Fortuna Sittard in December 1996 ahead of a return to Luton in September 1997.

Gray spent a further three years Kenilworth Road before leaving for Burnley in 2000 and then Oxford United.

The Northern Ireland international then appeared for four non-league clubs prior to his retirement in 2005.

Internationally, Gray finished with 26 caps for his country, scoring six goals and finishing with the record of winning every game he scored in for Northern Ireland.