Michael Gray is most commonly known for his time at boyhood club Sunderland, in which they reached the dizzy heights of 7th in the Premiership in successive seasons. Gray also played for Blackburn, Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday, as well as loan spells at Celtic and Leeds United (twice). The full-back also won three caps for England, with one of his caps whilst impressing in the second tier of English Football.
How does the Tyne Wear derby compare to any other football game you have played in?
It’s all about the passion and bragging rights. It was a game you just don't want to lose. Especially being a local lad.
You represented England whilst playing in then the Division 1; did you ever feel like you had to leave Sunderland to maintain your England place?
No because I knew that Sunderland was a team going places! It was just amazing to represent your country. I was so proud.
You played in arguably the best play-off final match ever, unfortunately missing a penalty in the 4-4 epic with Charlton, what were your feelings when you missed? And how did you recover to help win the Title the following season?
We came back stronger and it made me want to succeed even more! My passion was playing for my hometown team in the Premiership, which I was fortunate enough to achieve.
The first year in the Premiership saw Sunderland 7th, including a 2-1 win at Newcastle! And the following year, you repeated the 7th place finish and again winning at St.James's park, how tough was it to follow up them two seasons?
It was tough. Expectations were so high and the squad was the same. We needed new players but they never came. It’s a big shame really we didn’t push on.
Around that time there was rumors of you joining Newcastle, I take it they were never going to become reality?
Me joining my fiercest rivals would never have happened!
You just missed out on England's Euro 2000 campaign, so when Phil Neville, playing in your position, gave away the penalty which knocked England out; how did you feel towards him? Gutted or the old If I was playing that wouldn't have happened!
People make mistakes all the time. It could have been me but unfortunately I wasn't picked.
Is it true you rejected a contract at Manchester United to choose your boyhood club in Sunderland?
Yes I turned them down to play for Sunderland. It might have had something to do with Ryan Giggs playing the same position.
During your short period at Celtic you did play in the Old Firm Derby, how does it compare to the Tyne-Wear derby?
Both derbies are amazing to play in. I wouldn’t like to choose between them. I’ve had great memories from both!