Here, the author of Get in the Sea and one of the voices you hear on football podcast Athletico Mince explains why the £325,000 his club paid for the striker in 1997 was money well spent.
“He definitely didn’t stand out as a marquee signing and the story is that [manager] Peter Reid wanted David Connolly, but he was injured so [Watford boss] Glenn Roeder suggested he look at Phillips.
“The vibe at Sunderland was low back then as we’d just been relegated from the Premier League and he joined us for what was the first season at the Stadium of Light after we moved out of Roker Park.
“Fans thought he’d probably be used as a back up to someone. We couldn’t even remember his name and in the days before names appeared on the backs of shirts, it was hard to know if he was actually playing, but he scored on his home debut when we beat Man City 3-1.
"The season before we went up (1998/99) we beat Bury away 5-2 and Phillips scored four and the fourth goal came in the 90th minute where he curled it in from outside the area.
“We lost to Chelsea 4-0 in the first game, then beat Watford at home and Phillips scored two and in January we were second in the league. That [1999/00] season Phillips scored 30 goals in 36 games. Amazing.
“His famous one is against Chelsea in 1999 when he just banged it in from about 35 yards and we won 4-1. I think Marcel Desailly had to check himself into a mental hospital after that game.
“I should mention Niall Quinn because without him there probably wouldn’t be any Kevin Phillips. The partnership they had together was just so good.
“Usually as a Sunderland fan it’s quite miserable, but this period was absolute dreamland for us - a complete shaft of light because he was scoring about two goals every game.
“And then he left us when we got relegated.”