Thursday 05 January 2012

Gardner: Sessegnon best I've played with

Sunderland midfielder says Beninese team-mate is handful for opposition defenders

Gardner (right) was on target alongside Sessegnon in the 4-1 win over Wigan

Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner says team-mate Stephane Sessegnon is the best footballer he has ever played alongside.

Benin international Sessegnon, 27, has scored four Barclays Premier League goals this season, including two in his last four appearances as Martin O'Neill continues his dramatic renaissance on Wearside.

And Gardner, who was on target in Sunderland's 4-1 win over Wigan alongside Sessegnon at the DW Stadium on Tuesday, believes the £6m signing from Paris St Germain possesses enviable skills.

"Sessegnon is probably the best player I've played with," Gardner told Sunderland's official website.

"We're going into games thinking we will beat teams now because the gaffer instills that much confidence into us"
- Craig Gardner

"He's unbelievable and you don't realise just how good he is until you're on the pitch with him.

"He turns defenders inside out and is a nightmare for them.

"If I see I'm playing against him in training I do everything I can to switch to the other side!

"I would love to have half the skill he's got."

The Black Cats have collected a possible 10 points from 12 over the festive period, including a superb 1-0 victory over Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City.

They have surged up the League into 10th place on 24 points after suffering a disastrous start to the season.

And Gardner says the new-found confidence is down to O'Neill's man-management skills.

"The changing room is absolutely buzzing," said the former Birmingham man. "The lads are on fire.

"Sessegnon has been fantastic, James McClean and Lee Cattermole have been superb, everyone has been top class.

"We're going into games thinking we will beat teams now because the gaffer instills that much confidence into us. He is just different class."

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Key Points

  • Craig Gardner rates Stephane Sessegnon as best he has played with
  • Benin midfielder a "nightmare" for opposition defenders
  • Martin O'Neill credited with surge in Wearside confidence