Cult Hero: Carlos Edwards

by Kate Smith

Tricky Trinidadian takes the spotlight.

After launching a ball from the banks of the River Wear and bursting the net from 80 - maybe 100 -yards out, Carlos Edwards is often a hot topic of conversation on Wearside.

That goal in the promotion-securing win over Burnley at the Stadium of Light in April 2007 is fondly remembered by the red and white army.

Not only because of Metro Radio’s Simon Crabtree’s larger-than-life commentary, but it was also the winger’s fifth goal after securing a move to Sunderland from Luton Town just four months earlier.

The Trinidad and Tobago star was brought to Wearside by manager Roy Keane in the January 2007 transfer window, reportedly upon the recommendation of former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

With a £1.4million price-tag Edwards hit the ground running and wasted no time in proving his worth.

A string of notable performances, followed by goals against Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City, Birmingham City, Southampton, as well as the strike against Burnley saw the winger’s popularity rise on Wearside.

It’s no surprise that before his move to Sunderland the former Wrexham man was attracting a lot of attention from clubs around the division, with Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth Argyle and Coventry City said to be monitoring the star on the back of his impressive season with Luton Town, capped off by representing his country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

During his time with Sunderland he continued to pick up caps for Trinidad and Tobago, with a third of the Soca Warriors regular starting XI being made up of his Black Cats team mates, with Dwight Yorke, Stern John and Kenwyne Jones all in the ranks.

After playing such a pivotal role in Sunderland’s promotion back to the top-flight, it was disappointing for the winger to have his maiden Barclays Premier League season marred by injury.

He suffered a hamstring injury at St Andrews, only the second game of the season and after returning in the Wear-Tyne derby he played a further two games before being side-lined with a leg fracture.

Edwards managed to return for the final months of the campaign, playing eight games and helping the team retain their Premier League status.

After a spree of summer signings ahead of the 2008-09 season, Keane bolstered his squad with midfielders Teemu Tainio, El Hadji Diouf and Steed Malbranque, leaving Edwards largely out of contention for a place in the squad.

He joined Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers on a three-month loan, but was recalled after a few weeks and restored to the Sunderland starting line-up.

In the following weeks Keane left Sunderland and Edwards continued to feature under the tutelage of Ricky Sbragia.

Top-flight status was achieved once again and new manager Steve Bruce was put in place, the former Wigan boss rang the changes upon his arrival with six new faces putting pen to paper and 10 players heading for the exit.

Edwards was one of the 10 who left Sunderland that summer, he and SAFC academy graduate Grant Leadbitter joined Ipswich Town as part of a £4 million deal that saw them reunite with former manager Roy Keane.

He would continue to delight football fans with his energetic displays and has gone on to become captain at Portman Road and pick up various player of the year accolades.