John O’Shea believes the introduction of Bali Mumba could prove to be a ‘symbolic moment’ in the club’s future.
The defender made way for the 16-year-old last Sunday with just three minutes left, handed Mumba the captain’s armband and saluted the Sunderland fans as he departed the pitch to a standing ovation.
Mumba’s introduction as greeted with a loud roar, fuelled by anticipation as the teenager became the third debutant of the afternoon along with Luke Molyneux and Denver Hume.
With the game - at that point - wrapped up, Sunderland ended their season with six academy graduates on the pitch and an average age on the pitch of just 22.
But skipper O’Shea isn’t surprised one bit, and has admitted the club’s young talents provides them with a bright future.
“Bali has come into training with the first team during the season and done very well,” he said.
“He is a 16-year-old who has come into that environment and not looked out of place, got plenty of knocks and kicks and tackles and bounced back up and showed a good attitude.
“I said to Robbie (Stockdale, the caretaker manager) he would be the perfect example of what this club's future is all about.
“It was a symbolic moment,” he continued.
“That's the future of the club, and lads like him really need to be looked after.
“Keeping the home-grown talent and bringing them through and developing them has to be the model they need going forward.”