Stefan Schwarz

No split loyalties for Stefan

Former star Schwarz backing Black Cats.

Former Sunderland midfielder Stefan Schwarz insists he will have no split loyalties when the Black Cats face Arsenal this Saturday.

The Sweden international, who made over 60 appearances at the Stadium of Light during a four-year spell after signing from Valencia in 1999, enjoyed his first taste of English football at Highbury under George Graham.

But Schwarz says his time on Wearside left a lasting impression on him and praised the passionate Sunderland fans for making his stay a memorable one.

"My family and I spent four great years in Sunderland," said Schwarz. "It was an important part of my life, so I always follow the club and hope they do well in the Premier League.

"Arsenal is a great club too, but of course I spent more time at Sunderland and have quite a few friends there.

"You understand the passion that the Sunderland supporters had for the game. They were fantastic It felt very much like Southern Europe. Not the weather, of course, but the way they are passionate about the game; the way the fans took the time to talk to each other on the street. I loved it."

Schwarz is currently plotting a European adventure with current club Helsingborgs, who face Scottish champions Celtic in the Champions League qualification play-offs, but has not ruled out a return to Sunderland in some capacity in the future.

"I'm assistant manager here at Helsingborgs and I enjoy it," he added. "We have very important games ahead of us with the European qualifying games against Celtic.

"I know Sunderland have a great manager Martin O'Neill but who knows, maybe one day I could privileged to manage or coach the club. After all, Sunderland is one of the clubs in my heart."