Sunderland had to wait until stoppage time to overturn a deficit against League One outfit Shrewsbury Town in their FA Cup third round fixture as they scored two goals in two minutes to register a miraculous victory but one man stole the headlines on the night.
Chris Rigg, who came off the bench in the 81st minute to replace Frenchman Édouard Michut during the dramatic 2-1 win, became the youngest-ever outfield player to represent the Black Cats at the senior level. He was startlingly just 15 years and 283 days old.
The fresh-faced teenager played a vital role for his side and his manager Tony Mowbray was full of praise for his young prodigy.
“He was on the pitch because he deserved to be on the pitch,” the Sunderland manager insisted in an interview to The Athletic.
“He’s talented and when he trains with us, he’s tenacious and he wins tackles — doesn’t show too much respect to the senior players. He moves the ball with his left foot and he looks smooth when he travels with it.
“We had a lot of injuries and that played a part (in Rigg’s involvement), but the chance comes and everyone needs that opportunity. He’s done well and hopefully pushed himself on the fringes of helping us in league matches going forward.”
“I’m sure he’ll tell everyone and his grandkids in future that he went on and changed the game.”
Almost immediately after his much talked about debut, Premier league outfits such as Manchester United and Newcastle United were linked with Rigg’s signature.
The teenager was promoted to the first team setup earlier this season and his prodigious talent already has many, including Black Cats midfielder Luke O’Nein, convinced that the club have a real baller on their hands.
“He’s been coming up to the first team, making us all look silly,” said the 28 year old.
“It’s incredible. I don’t know what I was doing at 15… I was nowhere near and never will be at his level.”
Despite having come through the ranks at the Stadium of Light, Rigg hails from a family of Geordies and this has many fans already sweating over the prospect of losing a potential world-beater to their closest rivals.
Sunderland have made an excellent start on their return to the Championship and find themselves trailing the play-off positions by just 3 points.
The Wearsiders know that the lure of joining a Premier league team may prove to be too enticing for the young midfielder, but will hope that they can yet convince him to stay a while longer.
Manchester United will be aware that Newcastle remain in pole position to sign the teenager but the Red Devils may yet steal a march on the transfer with a new ownership on the horizon. Expect more news on this front soon enough.