PIERRE Ekwah has described Sunderland as the "perfect place" for young players and believes the in-form Black Cats are well equipped to secure another top six finish in the Championship this season.

It's just over a year since Ekwah swapped West Ham for Wearside and the young midfielder is one of a number of Sunderland players who has turned heads and been the subject of transfer interest, with high-flying German outfit Stuttgart having made an approach last summer.

But in an emphatic response to that previous transfer speculation, Ekwah says he's "100% happy" at the Stadium of Light, has described Sunderland as home and hailed the fans for the level of support which blew him away when he first joined the club last January.

Ekwah scored for the second home game on the bounce against Plymouth on Saturday, his leveller the springboard for the blistering second half that followed as Michael Beale's side extended their unbeaten run to three games in the Championship.

Ekwah is enjoying life under Beale and couldn't be happier at Sunderland.

"I went from West Ham Under-21s to the Championship and the play-offs in not even a year," he says.

"It's a pleasure to play for this club and play week in, week out.

"I'm definitely happy here, for my development as a person and a footballer it's the perfect place. And you can see a lot of people are enjoying themselves."


Beale took the time to sit down with each Sunderland player individually in the weeks that followed his appointment and Ekwah says he appreciates the effort of the head coach to get to know him personally as well as a player.

He's also relishing the challenge of becoming one of Sunderland's leaders.

He said: "Before I was the new kid on the block, now all of a sudden the coaches are telling me I need to say this and that and organise a little bit.

"I'm definitely enjoying that because that's what I used to do as a Under-21s player at West Ham. Now I have that backing from the coaches and players as well to speak my mind."

He's been at Sunderland for 13 months now but Ekwah continues to be amazed by the backing of Sunderland's fans - and is determined to do all he can to keep the smiles on the faces of the Stadium of Light regulars.

"Let me tell you, playing in front of them is just brilliant," he said.

"You can't really put it into words. Every game there are 40,000 people, I just find it crazy and so good.

"I remember my first home game, wow, the noise was just crazy. Since then I've always said, if you can play here where else can you not play?

"You have to give the fans the joy of watching the game. You need to give them something to get off their seats, so you understand when they're frustrated some times. The fans will let us know what the game is like and here you can hear it, when you're doing good it's brilliant, it's brilliant.

"The more you play at home, the more you call it home. It feels really emotional to hear it and to hear the excitement. I can call it home now and I just think it's beautiful."