As Benji Kimpioka wheeled away after scoring in the 90th minute to rescue a draw with Coventry in 2019, it felt like a landmark moment.
11 months on from when Josh Maja had been sold, a member of Sunderland’s academy was scoring goals again.
Unfortunately for the 21-year-old, he has not scored for the senior team in league action since.
Chances have been hard to come by for Kimpioka, a young talent who swapped Swedish shores for the north-east of England in 2016.
It was in Scandinavia where he learned the game, but it’s at Sunderland where he’s been developed and tailored.
That being said, it has not been an easy ride for the striker, someone who has struggled to make a sufficient impression under both Jack Ross and Phil Parkinson.
Ross was the man to give him his senior debut but he’s not kicked on and has also had his troubles with injury.
Speaking in October 2018, just over a year before he scored his first league goal, Ross commented: “He’s an enigma at times. He’s got really good attributes. It’s just about trying to piece it all together.”
Indeed, not a single manager has been able to piece them together until recently. Kimpioka has been busy making a big impression for Elliott Dickman’s U23s but his season hasn’t been without its setbacks.
The talented forward didn’t even have a club at the beginning of the term. He was out of contract with the Black Cats and even went back to his native Sweden to train with his former club, IK Sirius.
A hamstring injury in November proved another setback, but we’re starting to see signs of a revival. He was among the substitutes bench for the EFL Trophy final at Wembley just over a week ago which clearly shows Lee Johnson has him on his radar.
The arrival of Ross Stewart has damaged the potential of further senior minutes but with Will Grigg out on loan, there is a spot in the first-team with Kimpioka’s name on it.
If he continues to score with great regularity for the U23s, there’s no reason he can’t make an impression at first team level. After all, Johnson has already handed minutes to the likes of Dan Neil and Ollie Younger.
Could Kimpioka be the next in line? You should hope so. The forward has proven he can hit the back of the net this season and Sunderland are surely done with Grigg.
Therefore, the youngster should be unleashed next season instead.