ALEX Gorrin signed for Oxford United on the same day the fixture list was released – and the midfielder admits the first game made him grin.

Playing a senior match at the Stadium of Light will be a special moment for a player who spent five years at Sunderland without making his first-team debut.

“I had a little smile,” said Gorrin.

“I was with my dad at the time and he said ‘no way, what are the chances?’ I’m looking forward to that game, I can’t wait.”

Unable to force his way into a Premier League side, the Spaniard swapped Wearside for Wellington in New Zealand in search of regular football.

It began a globetrotting career which has taken him to the U’s, via Portugal, Romania and Scotland.

For Gorrin, who turned 26 yesterday, there are no regrets about having to move on.

“Obviously I would have liked to have played for the first team. But at that time they were in the Premier League and they were signing a lot of players.

“They had a big budget and it’s not easy to give a young kid a chance.

“But I learned a lot from there, the people there were great and always helped me out. I still like the place.”

It will be a tough stage to make his U’s debut, but there have been promising signs of a partnership with Cameron Brannagan during pre-season.

Gorrin said: “He’s a good guy off the pitch and on it he’s a great player and has a lot of quality.

“He’s a guy you want to have beside you and I’m enjoying playing with him.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Al already and he’s a top lad,” Brannagan said.

“You can see on the pitch we’re getting on very well and hopefully long may that continue.”