SUNDERLAND legend Kevin Phillips will be on familiar ground this Friday when he returns to the Stadium of Light to receive an honorary award from the city’s university.
Phillips is receiving an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Sunderland in recognition of his outstanding 20-year career as a footballer, as well as his standing as a role model for young people.
The former Black Cats striker will be joined by around 1,000 students who will also be receiving awards at the Stadium.
Phillips spent six seasons with Sunderland - undoubtedly the best of his career. In 2000 he won the coveted Golden Boot, was named the Premier League Player of the Season and received a call-up to the England squad.
Following Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship in 2003 he left with a heavy heart bound for Southampton – the club that let him go in 1991 because they felt wasn’t good enough. A mistake that cost them £3.25m.
Phillips played 57 times for Southampton, scoring 27 goals, before joining Aston Villa in June 2005. Between 2005 and June this year, when he hung up his boots, he played for a further six clubs, including West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham and Leicester, where he ended his career. His record during this time read played 166, scored 101.
His record over his 20 year career reads played 665, scored 287 - a remarkable achievement that puts Kevin Phillips amongst the best strikers in the history of English football.
University Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson said: “It’s a great honour to welcome Kevin back to Sunderland to award him an Honorary Fellowship. He is held in such high esteem by everyone associated with Sunderland Football Club.
“He is such a great example to our graduates of someone who believed in his own ability and was determined to achieve his goal in life, despite the challenges before him.”
A total of 973 students will have graduated during five ceremonies at the Stadium this week.