Former Sunderland flop David Bellion fires Parisian club to promotion

Sunderland Gates

David Bellion has found success at last, helping Parisian side Red Star move back to Ligue 2 for first time since 1999.

The name David Bellion will still strike fear into the hearts of Manchester United, West Ham United and Sunderland fans around the globe. The French forward played just over 50 games for the three clubs combined, scoring just four times.

Although a flop in England, he would return to France to play over 100 games for Bordeaux, but possibly his greatest achievement happened on Friday night.

Bellion dropped down from Ligue 1 to the third-tier Championnat National this summer, and the now 32-year-old was on the score-sheet as Parisian side Red Star beat Istres 4-0 to clinch their promotion to Ligue 2.

It is the first time since 1999 that the club from Saint-Ouen, founded by Jules Rimet but given its name by an English woman way back in 1897, will play in France’s second tier. It was only back in 2003 that they found themselves as far down as the Parisian regional divisions.

Only two seasons ago did Red Star find themselves on the brink of relegation back to the fourth tier, but victory at the death saved the club's place in the National and now they can build for life in Ligue 2.

Bellion is not the only former Premier League name to have his hand in the success. Former Fulham striker Steve Marlet is the club’s Sporting Director, and he helped to bring Bellion and former Watford man Hameur Bouazza to the club.

Their experience, plus the goals of lower league veteran Kevin Lafaix, has helped Red Star to this amazing achievement. The club is ambitious, wanting to grow and one day, perhaps, join Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, but for now it is a step-by-step process.

Friday’s goal was Bellion’s eighth of the season, team-mate Bouazza has seven, with Lefaix the real star and top scorer with 18.

Bellion’s name may still be something of a joke within English football circles, but he has found success back in his home country and Red Star fans are delighted to cheer, rather than deride his performances.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch