Irish midfielder in the spotlight.
Irish midfielder Sean Thornton played for the Black Cats between 2002 and 2005 helping the Black Cats reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup and also return to the top-flight following relegation on his debut campaign.
The Drogheda-born midfielder began his career with Tranmere Rovers and spent a year at Prenton Park before joining Sunderland in July 2002.
Thornton joined Blackpool on a one-month loan deal in November to get first-team action before returning to Wearside to make his Black Cats debut in a 2-0 FA Cup third round replay win over Bolton Wanderers in January.
Sean made 14 appearances in his debut campaign as Sunderland suffered relegation from the top-flight – his most notable contribution a sweetly-struck volley in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea in April 2003.
The following campaign saw Thornton get off to a flying start with two goals in his opening four matches, including a goal in a 2-0 win over Preston North End which prevented the Black Cats from beating Darwen’s unwanted record of consecutive league defeats.
A total of 24 appearances followed for the Irish youth international as Mick McCarthy’s side suffered playoff heartbreak at the hands of Crystal Palace.
Injuries hindered Thornton’s development and he was limited to just three league starts as Sunderland won the Championship title.
He did, however, make 13 sub appearances and notched four goals over the course of the campaign.
Sean joined Doncaster for a club record fee of £175,000 at the end of the season and spent two years with the club before joining Leyton Orient.
Thornton made 91 appearances for the O’s before leaving Brisbane Road in 2010.