'Magic Man' Grant Leadbitter spearheaded Boro's charge back to the Premier League in 2016 and signed off his time on Teesside with 500 career games under his belt. 

Leadbitter was a key figure during his six-and-a-half years with Boro, finishing with nearly a quarter century of appearances for the club. 

He joined his boyhood team as a 16-year-old, progressing through the ranks at the Black Cats and amassed 111 appearances, scoring 11 goals across four seasons. 

His manager at Sunderland, Roy Keane brought him to Portman Road to sign for Ipswich Town in the summer of 2009. 

Spending three seasons with the East Anglia club, he notched over a century of games there with 13 goals to his name. 

Grant Leadbitter signs for Boro

However, Leadbitter returned to the North East to sign for Boro in 2012 when his contract expired with Ipswich. 

The vast majority of his appearances in a Boro shirt have with the captain's armband, and Leadbitter led Boro to the Play-Off final in 2015 before going one better the next season in leading the charge back to the top flight. 

Leadbitter celebrates promotion to the Premier League with Ben Gibson

Injuries limited his number of appearances in our sole season back in the Premier League, but he bagged a goal at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve in 2016 to put us ahead against Manchester United. 

Leadbitter's appearances in his last season at the Riverside mainly came in the Cup competitions, with his last in Boro colours his 500th career game when we defeated Peterborough United in the FA Cup. 

He returned to Sunderland in January 2019 to boost their chances of promotion from League One back to the Championship.