Gyan out to restore the Wearside pride

After last season's 5-1 loss to Newcastle, Sunderland's Ghanaian striker tells Jason Mellor revenge matters in today's derby duel

Their supporters will no doubt feel that Sunderland were charitable enough when it came to games against Newcastle last season, but as the North-East gears up with almost indecent haste for its latest turf "wor", Asamoah Gyan has a different kind of philanthropy in mind.

Gyan's late equaliser to salvage an ill-deserved point at the Stadium of Light in January was about as good as it got for the red-and-white half of this at times venomous rivalry between the Premier League's two most northerly outposts. Two months earlier, dare one remind Steve Bruce, the Tyneside-raised Sunderland manager had suffered the low point of more than three decades in the game in the form of a 5-1 humiliation at St James' Park, though ultimately it failed to prevent the Wearsiders from looking down on their noisy neighbours when the dust settled on the campaign in May.

After almost a year at the club, it was only recently that the penny dropped with Gyan as to how acute the embarrassment of those two no-shows must have been for Bruce. "Up until about two weeks ago, I didn't know just how close his links with Newcastle were," the club's record signing confessed. "I'd heard the fans chanting about it, but I didn't really take it on board. Now I realise how tough it must have been for him."

Such is the multinational outlook of the top-flight these days that, last season, Sunderland had three times as many Ghanaians as Geordies in their midst – Gyan being one of a trio of players from the World Cup quarter-finalists. Though John Mensah and Sulley Muntari have since moved on, it sounds like downtown Accra won't be the place to sport a Newcastle shirt for the lunch-time kick-off.

"Ghana is Sunderland," Gyan said. "Everybody in Ghana now watches Sunderland, not Chelsea or Manchester United. With the injury to Michael Essien, I'm the only Ghanaian playing in the Premier League right now, so I tend to be the one they watch. On Saturday, the whole country will be supporting Sunderland." No wonder the club took advantage and announced a link-up with one of the country's top clubs, Asante Kotoko, earlier this summer.

Despite leaving as a teenager to pursue a football career that has taken him to Greece, Italy and France before a £13.4m move to Wearside last September, Gyan has never forgotten where he came from. To underline the fact he plans to utilise his status as one of the African nation's most recognisable faces due to his sporting and musical exploits to launch the Asamoah Gyan Foundation.

"It's something we hope to have up and running in January," he revealed of the project he will oversee in conjunction with his brother, Baffour, following in the footsteps of Essien, John Pantsil, Aaron Mokoena and Nwankwo Kanu among high-profile African footballers who have attempted to put something back into their homeland.

The project's aims are twofold: a more plentiful supply of fresh water for many of the outlying villages in Ghana, in addition to promoting greater access to education for young females, the "girl child" as Gyan puts it, a group often marginalised in parts of the continent.

He explained: "Sometimes, they marry at a young age and find themselves tied to the marital home, without access to education. They need to be helped to gain that access. There's a saying: 'A man can do, but a woman can do better'. We want to help them reach their full potential.

"As for the water situation, I grew up in the city so I didn't come across these issues as much, but it's something that hits the rural areas more. I've seen the problems and I want to help the villages to try and tackle the problems they face. I have a passion to give something back to society, that's my motivation."

Gyan is one of the many footballing converts to Twitter to help keep his fans at home up to date with his latest exploits. With 46,000 followers since joining earlier this year, he has a little way to go to match the 420,000 converts to Joey Barton, whose performance is likely to have a major bearing on Newcastle maintaining their impressive record of just a single defeat on Wearside in more than 30 years.

"I'm on it every day," Gyan, one of the few who doesn't follow Barton, revealed. "Fans contact me every day, even more so in the run-up to the derby. You can sense how emotional they are about it. One told me: 'Score, and you're a legend'.

"I've played in a lot of games where there's a huge rivalry, but this one is special, there's something extraordinary about it that makes it hard to put into words. It's the game everyone has talked about since day one of me arriving here. After what happened last season, we know it's a game we can't afford to lose. They dominated both games last season, but this time it's going to be different. We're prepared, now it's time to deliver."

Top of the tweets

Asamoah Gyan has a healthy Twitter following but who is leading the league?

Manchester United Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) 1.4m followers

Arsenal Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) 751,051

Newcastle United Joey Barton (@joey7barton) 423,165

Liverpool Glen Johnson (@glen_johnson) 253,154

Bolton Stuart Holden (@stuholden) 203,902

Everton Phil Neville (@Fizzer18) 162,882

Sunderland Anton Ferdinand (@anton_ferdinand) 85,285

Tottenham Hotspur Aaron Lennon (@AaronLennonpsl) 72,811

Chelsea Florent Malouda (@realflorentm) 55,205

Manchester City Micah Richards (@officialmr2) 41,210

Blackburn Rovers Jason Roberts (@jasonroberts30) 26,641

Swansea City Ashley Williams (@AshWills84) 22,132

Wolves Jody Craddock (@mrjodycraddock) 19,523

Aston Villa Brad Guzan (@bguzan) 18,467

Wigan Athletic Mauro Boselli (@mauroboselli) 17,112

West Brom Peter Odemwingie (@odemwingieP) 16,103

Norwich City Anthony Pilkington (@Pilkington_11) 12,421

Stoke City Asmir Begovic (@asmir1) 9,793

Fulham Dickson Etuhu (@DicksonEtuhu) 8,062

Queen's Park Rangers Daniel Shittu (@danshittu) 2,840

Bruce: I hate every minute of it

The rival managers will enjoy a somewhat different build-up to today's encounter between Sunderland and Newcastle, one which will unfold in front of a 48,000 sell-out at the Stadium of Light.

A candid Steve Bruce admits the enjoyment has waned in his 13-year managerial career: "I don't think I look forward to any games now to be honest." Given his status in a well-rewarded role many would happily do for free, Bruce is aware of the dangers of being seen to moan about his lot too much.

He added: "It's the best job in the world, until a Saturday afternoon, and then I despise every minute of it – unless you win of course. I love the job, and I love the build-up but no one can tell you what it's like."

His Newcastle counterpart, Alan Pardew, feels the same strains, albeit at different times, match days being his most treasured 90 minutes of the week. "I quite enjoy it. I enjoy the game," he said. "It's the Monday to Friday bit, putting out fires that I don't like. Maybe Steve and I should work out a job-share."

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel