Danny Graham declined a late offer from his former club Middlesbrough in order to swap Swansea City for Sunderland and confront the critics waiting for him on Wearside.
The 27-year-old striker, who cost Martin O'Neill's side £5m, was booed and subjected to chants of "You're scum and you always will be" when he appeared as a second-half substitute for Michael Laudrup's side in Tuesday night's 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Born and brought up in Gateshead, Graham has always been open about his life-long support for Newcastle United and comments he made during a fanzine interview a few years ago suggesting he would prefer to play for non-league Gateshead than wear the red and white of Sunderland have not impressed certain Wearsiders. "Of course, I totally understand that some fans might need convincing about my commitment to Sunderland because of my roots but I've always given 100% no matter what team I play for and no matter who I play against," said Graham, who has agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract.
"It's up to me to show people I deserve to wear the Sunderland shirt and I'm excited about playing for a club as big as this. I'm really excited about the future. This is a new phase of my career and I can't wait to get started."
With Fraizer Campbell, Ji Dong-won and Louis Saha having all left the Stadium of Light in January, O'Neill was short of attacking options, not to mention partners for his key striker Steven Fletcher.
After losing his first-team place to Michu at Swansea, Graham, who finished top scorer with 14 goals at the Liberty Stadium last season, was offered chances to choose between Middlesbrough, the club where he began his career, Norwich City and Sunderland. There was only ever one option.
"As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland, I didn't even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table," said a striker who scored freely at Carlisle and Watford, averaging better than a goal every three games, after leaving the Riverside. "I was born and brought up in the north-east, so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world. It's special; there's nowhere else like it."
While O'Neill is confident Graham will win his detractors round in much the same way that Bob Stokoe, a former Newcastle player, did as he steered Sunderland to FA Cup glory in 1973, the manager also has sufficient faith in his defence to have allowed Ahmed Elmohamady to rejoin Hull City on loan.
"We're delighted to have Danny and I genuinely think he'll do well for us," said O'Neill, who has given his recruit the No9 shirt. "He has a real desire to do well. I think he can fit in and score a few goals. We want to be less reliant on Steven Fletcher and I think Danny will alleviate the load."