'I was taken aback': New Sunderland signing says he's been left shocked by their supporters already
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

'I was taken aback': New Sunderland signing says he's been left shocked by their supporters already

Daniel Ballard joined Championship new-boys Sunderland from Arsenal this summer and made his competitive debut in front of their fans last weekend.

The Black Cats drew 1-1 with Coventry City at the Stadium of Light, and the Northern Ireland international was stunned by the atmosphere.

He told the Sunderland Echo how he hadn’t played in front of too many crowds like that before and that it makes a major difference.

Sunderland fans have endured some heartache since they dropped out of the Premier League but there is real cause for optimism now.

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Ballard surprised by Sunderland fans

“Even in the warm-up it was probably more than what I’ve played in before so to have that support was brilliant,” he said.

“Especially in the first half I thought we had an excellent half, I thought we played well and to have them behind you, especially when we scored the goal, it’s a noise you don’t hear at many places.

“I was taken aback a bit by the crowd and the stadium, I’ve not really played in front of many atmospheres like that, especially at home.

“I was really surprised by that and it gives you a boost that I haven’t really had before. I have played in front of big crowds before but it’s usually the opposition fans. To have them on your side it’s a big boost and they really do help.”

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ballard did not look to be in the central defensive picture at Arsenal for the season ahead and he has decided to go out somewhere he will play every week.

It would be no surprise to see the defender make the jump back up to the Premier League at some stage, either in a transfer deal eventually or via promotion.

He has the tools to be a top defender and saw a move to Burnley fall apart before joining Sunderland, but he seems very happy where he is right now.

Ballard will want to keep on showing what he can do, and Alex Neil will hope for that first win back in the second tier sooner rather than later.

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