Sunderland legend Marco Gabbiadini announced last week that he was retiring from professional football on the eve of his 36th birthday after a career of almost 19 years. He signed for Sunderland in 1987 and for the first three seasons he was at Roker, was SAFC’s top scorer – but many will remember him mostly for his goal at St James’s Park that put the Mags out of the playoffs on their own turf, and caused a pitch invasion. RTG asked you for your memories of Marco, and this is what you told us…
“we went down to Fulham for a midweek game – I said to all the lads who hadn’t been to the Saturday home game “you’ve gotta see this kid he’s f*****g great”……….no-one would believe it………he played them off the park on his own….”
“I remember his 2 goals in his second game at Craven Cottage…home against Doncaster at Xmas when the Donny centre backs semed to have stopped moving, such was Marco’s pace…the sheer excitement every time he got the ball…what a forward line, destroying Mansfield near the end…Gates, Marco, Pascoe, (and…er…Lemon)…even accepting it was Division 3, Marco is without doubt the most exciting player I have ever seen in a SAFC shirt (not the best, but the most exciting). Hero.”
“Always remember him slipping in the mud whilst trying to celerate his goal at Sid James, a look of complete, childish joy on his mug.
The bending shot at Norwich after we’d been promoted.
Decking some farmer after completing his first hat-trick for the lads and getting sent-off. And that initial burst of braces in the third division, and the five minute hat-trick against Charlton just before he left.”
“Got to be his game against Watford 2 cracking goals (2 of the best I’ve seen) and totally destroying the Watford back 4”
“I was in the Fulwell end. He robboed their right back out on the wing, round about the halfway line. Steamed towards us with enormous pace as only Marco could. And bang ! In it went. Absolutely brilliant. Think he scored two that day and we scored four. Marco was a goalscoring hero, no doubt. Only Cloughy and Kev are ahead of him in the last fifty years. I know this. I’m that old. Good luck Marco. You were a Sunderland star.”
“The night before 92 cup final we were in a boozer called the Crows Nest near Hyde Park. There was hell on after a few disgruntled Palace fans had made some derisory remarks about Marco, calling him Gabbiadonkey and the likes. Whilst I wouldn’t condone violence, it was a sign of how special the lad was to Sunderland fans. Couldn’t imagine people getting so defensive over any other player in my lifetime. Legend, ole…ole…ole..ole…”
“Marco was dynamite, in a sh*te team, never forget the way he would outpace defenders with such ease, or the hat trick against Ipswich when he knocked the 2nd penalty in from the rebound, the defender barged into him and, despite the elation at scoring another hat trick, turned round and decked him….”
“He had pace, power and aggression and his rotund shape gave him a low centre of gravity meaning he could turn on a sixpence. Skill in abundance. He was up there with Lord Rowell, Pop Robson and Super Kev as one of the finest centre forwards I have personally seen in a Sunderland shirt – and a genuinely nice guy. Highlights of his career aplenty, but none more so than seeing Gates & Gabbiadini scything through the Mags defence during the Play-Off Semi Final in the late 80’s. Wonderful stuff – they just didn’t like it up ’em as proved by the riot that followed. The guy was a legend to me and all Mackems and don’t let any Mag try and convince anyone otherwise. Good luck with your hotel business Marco and thanks for the wonderful memories!”
“Marco was absolutely awesome – he made Bruce and Pallister look absolutely useless.”
“His goal at Maine Road the day we got relegated, bullet header. Can watch it over and over even tho I know we got relegated.
His goals at Chelsea and Norwich that season were special as well.
The commentator in the play-off game keeps referring to him as Gabbadini – ‘Gates…Gabbadini…Gates…GABBADINI WITH A CHANCE TO WRAP IT UP NOW!’ “
“I always remember Jack Charlton calling him Gabbiadoony all game in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle…”
“The playoff game was the greatest game I’ve ever been to. Even though we were one nil up, I remember standing in the Leazes End with total gut-wrenching emotion – it was like my entire life depended on it. I can still see the second goal like it was yesterday – the way it went into the net, the look on Marco’s face as he tried to celebrate (in the mud) and the feeling – a total, and utter joyous, fantastic, relieved, elated euphoria that words will never do justice to.”
“…..one end of the pitch to the other in 5 seconds with 3 or 4 spot on passes, then a pin-point cross and in the back of the net – tremendous!”
“Shortly after we sold Ian “fatty” Hesford to Hull, I think that Tony Norman coming to us was part of the deal, Hull played at Roker Park. I was stood on the Fulwell End that afternoon and right in line when Marco latched on to a through ball and let fly from about 20 yards. Well before the ball curled past Hesford’s outstretched finger tips, everyone around me was already celebrating. It was one of those that you could just see all the way.”
“I was away on a business trip the day of the second leg and knew I couldn’t get back in time for the match, so didn’t even bother to try and get a ticket. I was driving in the rain on the A1, match on the radio, just coming up to Team Valley and could see the floodlights of SJP off to my right when it happened. THAT goal. There I was in the car on my own going ballistic. The window went down, the head went out and ole, ole, ole, ole, Marco, Marco was sang at the top of my voice in the general direction of SJP.”
“Remember going to a charity football match in Ashington where Marco and Mirandhina were appearing and taking part in a penalty shoot out at half time. I was only about 10 at the time and was dead excited, but my excitement was replaced by anger and pain when, as I stood behind the goal, Gabbas blasted one of his spot kicks right in the corner where I was standing with the ball whacking my hand as it nestled in the net and sending my autograph book flying. Stung like mad, but I think I managed to hold back the tears. He was wearing the blue away shirt from the 89-90 season so it must have been just before his famous Mag slaying heroics at SJP (it couldn’t have been after it or he would never have made it out of Ashington alive!!)”
“My greatest memory is when we beat Watford at home 4-0 and he scored a hat-trick. The goals against Chelsea away, Norwich away, Shef Utd away, and the goal against West Ham at home are just some of the highlights of Marco’s career that made him a SAFC legend. His blistering pace and immense strength when displayed to its full potential were amazing and a pleasure to watch.”
“I’ll never forget the thrill of the first time I saw Marco. It was at Craven Cottage on 29th September 1987 and we won 2-0. Marco scored in the first 5 minutes and the last minute. At last we had signed a “real” player. After the old stagers of the MacMeneny era we’d signed a young hungry unknown. We’d started our first season in Division 3 with 2 wins but had then begun to stagger a bit with draws and defeats. His first game was a 0-2 defeat at home to Chester where despite that he had shown his promise. At Fulham he was a revelation, he had strength, pace and knew where the goal was. He scored 6 goals in his first 4 games and the season changed from that day. He linked up well with Eric Gates and must have added a couple of seasons to his career. Another highlight after promotion was his hat trick against Watford in a 4-0 home win. But I’ll always remember the goal he scored at Man City in the final game of the relegation season in 1991. John Kay had raced down the left and put in a tremendous cross which was met by Marco’s head on the six yard box. The ball went in like a bullet giving the keeper no chance.”
“He will go down as a S.A.F.C all time great. From a “hero” to a “legend” GET