Flashback: Three Lions at the SoL

by Kate Smith

Sunderland hosted its first international on this day in 1999.

The Three Lions were welcomed to the Stadium of Light for the first time 13 years ago today.

Back in 1999, Kevin Keegan's England met Belgium at the home of the Black Cats with familiar faces Kevin Phillips and Michael Gray in the squad.

Sunderland's leading goal-scorer picked up his second international cap as he started the game, whilst local lad Gray just missed out and had to watch the game from the stands.

Over 40,000 fans packed out the stadium to see England run-out 2-1 winners in the friendly.

Newcastle's Alan Shearer opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Phillips came close to opening his international account but did not manage to find the back of the net despite the sell-out crowd - which had a strong red and white presence - cheering his every touch!

Belgium grabbed an equaliser before Jamie Redknapp ensured the Three Lions would be victorious in their first visit to the Stadium of Light just after the hour mark.

The game saw a certain Frank Lampard make his international debut and should the midfielder play against San Marino in this Friday's World Cup qualifier at Wembley Stadium it will be his 94th cap for his country.

Also making his debut in the game was Leicester City's Steve Guppy. Sunderland's current first team coach picked up his only senior England cap in the game at the SoL.

International football returned to Sunderland in 2004, when England played Turkey in a European Championship qualifier.