It is with great pride that Durham FA are able to announce that Gary Bennett has agreed to become our first football Ambassador.
Gary is iconic across our region as a dedicated, hard-working, skillful defender and Captain of Sunderland AFC during the eighties and nineties and he continues to reside in our area where he has established a well-regarded coaching school.
Gary began his career with Manchester City and joined Sunderland AFC in 1984 where he made 369 league appearances and well over 400 appearances in total for the club – scoring 26 goals. Gary also played in a League Cup Final against Norwich and a FA Cup Final against Liverpool. He made a goal scoring debut for Sunderland at Roker Park during a 3–1 victory over Southampton, heading past Peter Shilton after just two minutes.
Gary was voted Sunderland’s Player of the Season in 1994.
Gary left Sunderland AFC in 1995 after eleven years; when fifth on the club's all-time appearance list and during his career he made over 600 appearances in the Football League, scoring 61 times.
In August 2000, he was appointed manager of Darlington and left the club in May 2002.
Gary has many interests in and around football; he is, for example, actively involved with the Show Racism the Red Card campaign and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004. Gary has also participated at events run by fellow campaigning organisation Kick It Out.
Gary is a member of Durham FA Inclusion and Advisory Group (IAG) and is working in partnership with the County FA and Young Asian Voices, an active charity based in Sunderland, to promote footballing opportunities within the Asian community.
Gary is still a regular at Sunderland AFC and follows the club home and away as co-commentator on BBC Radio Newcastle.
Durham FA Company Secretary, John Topping stated “It is an honour to welcome Gary as Durham FA’s first Ambassador and we look forward to involving him in County FA business and initiatives, learning from him and utilising his wide knowledge, not only of the game but also from his related interests. He will certainly help Durham FA move forward across a range of fronts”.
Gary added “it’s with great honour and pride I accept the role of being the first football Ambassador for Durham FA. I would like to thank John Topping and the staff for all the support and guidance I have received in the past and hopefully together we can help Durham FA move forward and develop a wide range of initiatives”.