FORMER Sunderland winger Colin Grainger has died, at the age of 89.

Grainger, who spent three years as a Sunderland player in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was affectionately known as the ‘Singing Winger’ because of the way in which he combined a successful footballing career with a spell in showbusiness.

He recorded on the HMV label in the fifties, and appeared on the same Manchester bill as The Beatles in 1963 as well as starring at the London Palladium.

His football career took off with Sheffield United, where he won the first of his seven England caps, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-2 win over Brazil at Wembley.

As well as finding the net against Brazil, his international career also saw him score against reigning World Cup holders West Germany in a game in Berlin in 1956.

A wing player noted for his silky body swerve, he joined Sunderland in February 1957 for a fee of £17,000, with reserve winger Sam Kemp going in the opposite direction, but was part of the club’s first relegation side.

He scored Sunderland’s first-ever goal in the Second Division in the following season, netting against Lincoln, and in April 1957, he won his seventh and final England cap while a Sunderland player in a Wembley win over Scotland.

He twice won representative honours for the Football League, and left Roker Park in the summer of 1960 having scored 14 goals in 124 first-team appearances.

Speaking in an interview in The Northern Echo in 2000, after he had retired to Skelmanthorpe, he said: “I was doing something I loved and getting paid £12 a week for it. Nowaday’s football’s just cut-throat, the money’s crazy.”

He left Sunderland to join Leeds after a disagreement with manager Alan Brown, and moved on to Port Vale in October 1961 for £6,000.

Four months after moving to Vale Park, he helped Port Vale spring a surprise by knocking Sunderland out of the FA Cup, setting up two goals in a 3-1 fourth-round replay win.

He was a scout after his playing career came to an end, and would often be seen at Eppleton watching Sunderland Reserves.