Colback, who was born on Tyneside and supports Newcastle, became one of a select group of players to move directly between the two feuding neighbours after rejecting Sunderland's offer of a new contract and joining the Magpies on a free transfer.

Only a handful of players, including Lee Clark and Paul Bracewell, have crossed the Tyne-Wear divide, but Colback is relishing the prospect.

The 24-year-old, who had been with Wearside club Sunderland since he was 10, said: "I'm absolutely delighted. To come to the team I supported as a boy, my home-town team, will be really special for me.

"It was an opportunity I couldn't let slip. If you asked fans around the world the one thing they'd like to do before they die, it would be to play for the team they support and I've got the chance to do that.

"I hope the Sunderland fans can understand the chance I've had here to move to my boyhood club. Now I can't wait to pull on the black and white shirt at St James' Park for the first time."

Colback scored for Sunderland in their second successive 3-0 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park in February, but now it is the Sunderland fans who be on his back in next season's Tyne-Wear derbies.

"He's a local lad and knows exactly what playing for this club means, and at 24 years old, his best years are ahead of him," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew added.