SUNDERLAND defender Niall Huggins has won the Championship's Goal of the Month award for October after his stunner against Watford.

Huggins joined up with the senior Wales squad for the first time this week ahead of decisive Euro 2024 qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey.

And after the joy of that first call-up, Huggins now has more reason to celebrate after being named as the Goal of the Month winner, beating off competition from Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, Ipswich Town’s Conor Chaplin, and Rotherham United’s Jordan Hugill.

His brilliant strike against Watford was his first career goal and set Sunderland on their way to a home victory.


Lead Sky Bet EFL Goal of the Month judge and Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman said: “Niall Huggins scored his first senior goal last month vs Watford, which must have been a thrill in itself! When he received the ball wide right, he had nine outfield players and a goalkeeper behind the ball.

“However, he cut inside and just kept going, skipping past a couple of challenges along the way before finishing it off with a powerful strike into the top corner. My best bet is he’ll struggle to top that in the rest of his career it was that brilliant!”

After the goal, head coach Tony Mowbray said: "I'm really delighted with Niall. He's had a tough time in my year or so here with injury, and yet it has been splattered with really good moments - Birmingham away last year springs to mind of him performing at a high level.

"You see in training how he can travel with the ball and he's like an elastic-man, almost, the way he weaves in and out of people like he did for the goal."

Earlier this week, Huggins opened up on the injury hell that he feared would force him into retirement.

The 22-year-old made just a couple of league starts in his first two seasons at Sunderland after joining from Leeds in August 2021.

“The last two years have been horrendous, awful to be honest,” said York-born Huggins, whose father was born in Bangor. “When I first joined Sunderland, I suffered an initial stress fracture in my back and that put me out for four or five months.

“I had the same sort of issue but in different places when I was doing my rehab and it was something we struggled to get to the bottom of.

“There was never a reason for why it was happening. All the tests we did, nothing ever seemed to stand out. It was just that the bones were weak, which made it tough.”

Asked if he felt his career was at risk at the time, Huggins said: “Yes, 100 per cent. It got to the point where every time I was doing the rehab, the first few steps back on the grass, it was always there in the back of my mind.

“I would think, ‘Is this going to happen again?’ And you do start to worry. The years are going by on the contract and you are worrying about it.

“When I did finally start to get fit, it helped so much mentally. But it is still hard to look back on.”