Thomas Sorensen has revealed that he turned down the chance to join Manchester United when he moved to Sunderland back in 1998.
The goalkeeper helped the Black Cats win promotion to the Premier League in his debut season at the Stadium of Light, and went on to make almost 200 appearances for the Black Cats before joining Aston Villa in 2003.
However, it seems Sunderland were not the only club interested in Sorensen at the time of his move to England, as he was quoted by The Chronicle as telling the “What the Falk!” Podcast: “During that summer when I joined Sunderland I actually held talks with Ajax Amsterdam and there were a few Danish players at Udinese in Italy.
“They had a good eye for Danish players so I actually had a meeting with them in Copenhagen.”
Explaining how the move to Sunderland eventually came about, Sorensen continued: “I was playing for Svendborg in what would be the Championship, the Danish second division, and Tony Coton came across twice.
“I didn’t think much of it because, especially the first game, we were playing in more or less a field with some barriers around it. A typical non-league stadium with maybe about 100 people watching.
“The season came to an end and my agent mentioned Sunderland and, to be fair, I hadn’t really kept an eye on what was going on in Sunderland.
“They just said: ‘Go and have a look at it and maybe you will like it, maybe you won’t’.”
It seems it wasn’t hard for Sorensen to make his mind up after taking a look at Sunderland, as he revealed: “I met Peter Reid and after half a day I knew that was where I wanted to be. I loved the passion and they actually showed me the semi-final against Sheffield United to show me the atmosphere.
“That half a day sold it to me. I wanted to be given a chance and it wasn’t the Premier League so it wasn’t an impossible step.
“Peter Reid was willing to give me a shot and that was all I wanted. I wanted a chance to cement myself and it was really a no-brainer.”
Explaining the interest he also had from Manchester United, Sorensen then went on to add: “In 1997, in December, Peter Schmeichel had organised for me to go for a week’s training with Manchester United.
“I had a great experience and then they invited me back in February. So when it came to it in the summer I had signed for Sunderland but it wasn’t official. A week later, I am sitting in my apartment in Denmark and the phone rings and it is Sir Alex Ferguson. I didn’t know what to say.
“He said: ‘We have obviously been following you and you impressed us while you were here. We would like to see if we can sort something out’.
“Obviously, I had already signed for Sunderland so I had to say to him: ‘Actually, I have just signed for Sunderland.’ He was actually very positive and he said he ‘thought that would be really good for you’ and ‘it will give you games for your development’.”
Despite the opportunities that may have arisen for him had he elected to make a move elsewhere, it seems Sorensen is happy with the way his career ultimately panned out, as he concluded: “Looking back, I have never regretted the decision. It was exactly the right decision for me and the right place for me to go.”
It does seem as though everything worked out well in the end here.
Sorensen enjoyed some impressive years with Sunderland, and you certainly feel as though those associated with the Black Cats will also be pleased that he eventually decided to come to the Stadium of Light.
Indeed, there is also no guarantee that Sorensen would have got that sort of game time at somewhere such as United, meaning Sunderland may well have been the perfect destination for him at that particular time.