Conor Shaw
Sunday 10 January 2021

Carl Winchester has completed his permanent move to League One side Sunderland for an undisclosed fee.

The 27-year-old links up with his former boss Lee Johnson at the Stadium of Light after almost three years at the innocent New Lawn - and signs a two-and-a-half year deal with the Black Cats.

Affectionately known as ‘Winniesta’ by the Rovers faithful, the skipper made 108 appearances in all competitions for Mark Cooper’s side – and scored 11 goals during his spell at the club.

Carl Winchester celebrates post Cheltenham away November 2019

The Belfast-born former Northern Ireland U21 international joined from local rivals Cheltenham Town back in 2018 after just 18-months at Whaddon Road – and soon became a mainstay in the FGR starting line-up.

Winchester well and truly became a fan-favourite through his two and a half seasons at Nailsworth. Not only for his professional attitude and application when wearing the green & black strip, but for his leadership and ability to turn defence into attack so quickly.

Chairman Dale Vince paid his tributes to Winchester on his departure: "Winnie’s been an important player for us, I’d like to add my personal thanks and best wishes to him."

Head Coach Mark Cooper said: "Carl has been fantastic for us during his time at the club and I have gone on record saying he is a Championship ability player.

"He was out of contract in the summer and of course we wanted to keep him. But, once you hear that Sunderland are interested, with all that it brings, how can you not let that happen."

Carl Winchester celebrates with Mark Cooper vs Cheltenham November 2019

"It's another player that we've managed to sell on - and we wish him well. Let's hope it's not long before he's playing in front of 40,000 supporters at the Stadium of Light.

"Carl is a quiet leader. He leads by example and from the very moment he arrived at Forest Green, you could tell he was a player with real quality. This all came out of the blue, but we wish him nothing but the best."