Sunderland have had a number of success stories to come out from the Academy of Light over the years, and one is currently brewing in the first-team squad this season.
Daniel Neil burst into the side last term and established himself as a regular in League One.
The 20-year-old is a promising young player who could write his name into Sunderland folklore if he continues to go from strength to strength in the coming years, following in the footsteps of the likes of Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson.
England are set to jet off to Qatar for the World Cup next month and the aforementioned duo could both be in Gareth Southgate’s squad, as they play for Everton and Liverpool respectively in the Premier League.
Sunderland-born Henderson is a huge success story of the Black Cats’ academy, as he came up through the ranks and is now an England international, captain of one of the biggest clubs in the country, and a Champions League and Premier League winner.
He did not cost his hometown club a penny as he came straight in without playing for another team, instead working his way up through the youth ranks on Wearside.
Transfermarkt valued him at £45k when he made his first loan move away from Sunderland to join Coventry in January 2009, which was his first-ever valuation from the site.
The young gem made 10 appearances in the Championship before coming back to the Black Cats and fighting for his place in their side in the 2009/10 campaign.
Steve Bruce arrived as the club’s new manager ahead of that season and took an instant liking to Henderson. The English coach handed the talent 33 appearances in the top flight and was rewarded with one goal and five assists.
In the summer of 2011, Liverpool swooped to sign the then 20-year-old midfielder for a fee in the region of £16m. He put pen to paper on a long-term contract with the Reds and is still at Anfield today.
At the time of the move, Transfermarkt valued him at £7.65m. This means that his value soared a whopping 16,900% between his breakthrough into the first team in 2009 and the moment that he left the club in 2011.
Sunderland struck gold by unearthing the “monster“, as Henderson was once described by Curtis Woodhouse, and Kristjaan Speakman will be hoping that he can unearth a few gems of his own in the years to come.