Cult Heroes: Nyron Nosworthy

Nuggsy's in our Cult Heroes spotlight.

Footballers are remembered for many different things by many different people. Some are loved by all. Some split opinion. Others rarely leave their mark.

But rapping, dancing, straw hats, supernatural tumbles, Amy Winehouse, lethal back-passes, Cruyff turns in his own box, mixed with assured defensive displays, mean this Cult Hero will always raise a smile whenever his name is mentioned among the Sunderland faithful.

Born in Brixton, South London, Nyron ‘Nuggsy’ Nosworthy began his career as a trainee at Gillingham, where he would become famous for running to training as a ‘warm-up’ despite living a considerable distance away.

He would mark his Gills debut in 1998 by being a ‘subsituted substitute’ but soon established himself as a regular starter in the first eleven, earning praise for his solid performances.

Making the majority of his 412 Gillingham appearances in his more natural role as a defender, Nosworthy would often be called upon as an emergency striker, scoring twice in one game against Crystal Palace.

In 2005, after seven seasons at the Kent-based club, Nyron would make a surprising move to Sunderland on a free transfer as back-up to first-choice right-back Stephen Wright.

His introduction to Premier League football would come sooner than expected, coming on as a substitute for the injured Wright in the opening game of the season. Nyron would take full advantage of the opportunity, impressing during a difficult season which would see Sunderland finish bottom of the top flight with 15 points.

The following season heralded a new dawn for the Black Cats as much as it did for Nosworthy. Under new manager Roy Keane, he would flourish at centre-half alongside on-loan Manchester United youngster Jonny Evans in the second half of the campaign.

Nosworthy would later say the move from right-back helped improve his concentration and organisational skills, a comment that was echoed by Keane.

During the season he would establish himself as a firm fan favourite, with chants of “They try to take the ball past Nyron, but he says no, no, no” to the tune of Amy Whinehouse’s ‘Rehab’ reverberating around the Stadium of Light, and would hold off competition from Dean Whitehead to win the club’s 2006-07 Player of the Year gong.

His most abiding image came against Luton at the end of the season where an iconic video of a topless Nyron wearing a straw hat while signing into a camera and celebrating Sunderland’s promotion with red and white fans would become a YouTube hit, receiving over 70,000 views.

But he also showed a serious side. With community being an important part of Nosworthy’s life, he was chosen to act as Sunderland’s Kick It Out anti-racism ambassador during this period, as well as representing the club as part of the Football Association’s ‘Get on with the Game’ initiative.

In the 2007-08 season, Nosworthy carried his impressive Championship performances into the Premier League, and continued to do so when Ricky Sbragia replaced Roy Keane as manager the following year.

But Sbragia’s resignation at the end of the 2008-09 season signalled a downturn in fortunes for Nosworthy’s Sunderland career as he barely featured under new manager Steve Bruce.

A memorable moment from that era came against Portsmouth in December 2009 when, with no-one around him, he inexplicably fell to the ground and performed a few commando rolls before getting to his feet as if nothing had happened.

After the game, Nosworthy would lay the blame at the feet of the ‘the Black Cat ghost’ before adding: “I lost my footing, and thought I’m going down anyway, I might as well go down gracefully, roll around and then get up and have a laugh.

“It was probably my mad five minutes.”

He was eventually allowed to leave on loan to Sheffield United in February 2010, and remained at Bramall Lane until the end of the season. That summer, he moved back to the Blades on a temporary basis, making 32 appearances as United were relegated to League One in 2011.

After again struggling to force his way into Bruce’s plans, Nosworthy moved to Watford until January 2012, making the move permanent after his loan expired.

All in all, the laid-back, charismatic defender made over 120 appearances for the Black Cats, giving everything he had during seven fun-filled years on Wearside.

Present-day football is short of cult heroes, but try to take that status away from Nyron and we’ll say ‘no, no, no.’