After seven years with Sunderland AFC, Duncan Watmore is leaving for pastures new and following his departure, he admits that the city will always have a piece of his heart.
A regular at events hosted by the Foundation of Light, Watmore showed a great interest in various initiatives during his time at the Stadium of Light and was keen to get involved in community projects.
He moved to Wearside as a teenager, still studying at University but would go on to make 50 appearances in the Premier League as well as representing England during his time with the Black Cats.
“It’s crazy when I think about how far I’ve come from when I was 19 playing non-league football,” he told the Sunderland Echo.
“I’ll always be forever grateful to Sunderland for giving me this opportunity. I’ve achieved so much with the club, on a personal and a team level, and I’m just so grateful for them giving me that opportunity.
“Obviously I would have liked to have done more. I wanted to end my time at the club with promotion, that was always my ambition, so I am sad in that respect – because the club deserves so much more.
“It’s a Premier League club in my opinion. Everything about the club and the fanbase is just fantastic, and it’s just sad that I couldn’t end my time here on a positive note.
“It’s just been a brilliant seven years that I’ll always be so grateful for.”
After a number of injuries kept Watmore on the sidelines, the team’s loss was the Foundation of Light’s gamin as he spent a lot of time getting out in the community and meeting youngsters taking part in various schemes.
Watmore was also a regular visitor to St Oswald’s Hospice where he would happily bring signed shirts aplenty and chat with Sunderland supporters. He wanted no publicity, this was simply about repaying an area which had welcomed him with open arms.
“I’m very passionate about that and it’s always something I’ll do,” says Watmore.
“I felt that I definitely owed it to the community of Sunderland with everything they’ve given to me, I felt it was the least I could do to help the Foundation of Light and the community in projects whenever I could.
“I get enjoyment out of it, because when you can see people and you can help – and fortunately as footballers we are in a position to help – we have that platform to cheer people up and raise awareness.
“There’s lots of things we can do as footballers, so my personal opinion is that you need to make the most of that.
“I enjoyed doing that so much, because the Foundation of Light does wonderful work for the community and it was great to be a part of.”
Written By Kate Smith
22 June 2020