We profile a select few who’ve played for both clubs.
Craig Gardner (AVFC 2005-10, SAFC 2011- )
Gardner came through the youth ranks at Villa Park, reaching the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2004. He made 80 senior appearances before moving to city rivals Birmingham, where he won the Carling Cup. He made the move to the Black Cats in the summer of 2011, following the Blues’ relegation.
Darren Bent (SAFC 2009-11, AVFC 2011- )
Bent was an instant hit on Wearside after securing a big-money move from Tottenham Hotspur in 2009. The England striker scored on his debut and went on to grab 24 Barclays Premier League goals in his maiden season at the club.
He grabbed another eight in the 2010-11 season before securing a move to Villa Park in January 2011 for a club record fee. The striker went on to score another nine goals in the 2010-11 season before an injury-hit 2011-12 campaign saw him fail to reach double figures in the Barclays Premier League goal stakes for just the second time since 2006.
Carlos Cuellar (AVFC 2008-12, SAFC 2012- )
Spanish defender Cuellar was signed by Martin O’Neill for Villa in 2008 in a deal worth £7.8m from Rangers. He played mostly as a right-back in his opening season for Villa but often deputised at centre-back.
He went on to make almost 100 league appearances for Villa before re-joining Martin O’Neill on a free transfer at the Stadium of Light this summer.
Martin O’Neill (AVFC 2006-10, SAFC 2011- )
O’Neill joined Villa in the summer of 2006 and in his first season in charge had the longest unbeaten start of any Barclays Premier League side (nine matches). Villa finished sixth for three consecutive seasons from 2007-08 to 2009-10. O’Neill departed in August 2010.
He signed a three-year contract with Sunderland, the club he had supported as a boy, in December 2011. He led a team flirting with relegation to the top half of the Barclays Premier League, finally finishing in 13th place in his first season in charge.
Thomas Sorensen (SAFC 1998-2003, AVFC 2003-2008)
Danish ‘keeper Sorensen moved to Wearside in 1998 from Odense at the age of 22. The goalkeeper helped Sunderland achieve promotion to the Premiership from the First Division with a club record 29 clean sheets in his maiden season.
He gained legendary status among the Black Cats faithful when he saved a penalty kick from Alan Shearer to preserve a derby victory in 2000. He moved to Aston Villa following Sunderland’s relegation in 2003 and went on to make over 150 appearances for the Villans, saving another Alan Shearer penalty in 2003.
Dwight Yorke (AVFC 1989-1998, SAFC 2006-09)
Yorke was discovered by then-Villa manager Graham Taylor on a tour of the West Indies in 1989. After a successful trial, Yorke signed a permanent contract and made his debut in March 1990.
After initially playing as a winger, Yorke made the move to the middle in 1995 and became one of the deadliest strikers in the top flight. He grabbed 17 goals in both the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons and made a big-money move to Manchester United in 1998, where he formed a deadly partnership with Andy Cole in their treble-winning side.
The Trinidadian moved to Wearside in 2006 from A-League team Sydney, and reunited with former teammate Roy Keane at the Stadium of Light. Yorke had moved to a defensive midfield role and was instrumental in helping to guide Sunderland back to the top flight.
Following Keane’s departure in 2008, he was named as an assistant to manager Ricky Sbragia. Yorke was released at the end of the 2008-09 season and subsequently retired from football.
Gavin McCann (SAFC 1998-2003, AVFC 2003-07)
McCann joined the Black Cats from Everton in 1998 and was part of the side that won the Division One title and promotion to the Premiership in 1999. He won his one and only England cap while at Sunderland in a friendly against Spain in 2001.
He moved to Villa in 2003 but suffered numerous injury setbacks in his four years at Villa Park. He made over 100 appearances before signing for Bolton in 2007.