Born in Ferryhill, County Durham on 26 June 1955, Eric Gates began his football career at Ipswich Town.
He scored 96 goals in 384 appearances for the Tractor Boys, over the course of 12 years.
During his time at Ipswich, he was called up by England twice in 1980, his first cap came in a 4-0 win against Norway in the 1982 World Cup Qualifiers.
His second and final appearance for England came in a 2-1 loss to Romania, also in the World Cup Qualifiers.
In 1981, he also helped Ipswich win the UEFA Cup, scoring 5 goals.
At the age of 30, in 1985 Gates signed for the Black Cats for £150,000 and his first season was a disappointing one, as Sunderland finished 18th in Division 2, just 2 places above relegation.
It only got worse for Sunderland as the following season, they were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history.
However, in their first season in the Third Division, Eric Gates impressed as he scored 19 league goals as Sunderland went straight back up as league champions.
In that season he formed a brilliant striking partnership with Marco Gabbiadini, which was known by the Sunderland faithful as the ‘G-Force’.
Gates impressed in a number of games that season, including scoring 4 goals in a 7-0 victory over Southend United and a hat-trick I’m a 3-0 win against Rotherham United.
He also scored in the 3-1 victory over Northampton Town, the game which clinched the title for the Black Cats.
Gates was named Sunderland’s player of the season as he helped them to immediate promotion.
In Gates’ final season at Sunderland at the age of 34, he played 39 league games in Division 2, scoring 7 goals as Sunderland were finally promoted to the top division.
He played in probably the biggest Tyne-Wear Derby to date, as Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-0 in the second leg of the Play-Off Semi-Final.
His final appearance came in the Play-Off final at Wembley against Swindon Town.
Sunderland actually lost the game 1-0 thanks to an own goal by, the captain, Gary Bennett, but they were awarded promotion due to Swindon not financial irregularities on Swindon’s behalf.
Gates left at the end of that season to finish his career at Carlisle United, where he scored 8 goals in 38 league games.
Overall, Gates played 219 games for the Black Cats, scoring 55 goals, and he will always be remembered for helping Sunderland to 2 promotions, 1 back to the second-tier then his second promotion, helping them return to the top flight.