Manchester City signed Quinn for £900,000 in March 1990. He scored 22 times in his first full season, and he went on to spend six years at the club, scoring 78 goals in 245 appearances.
In the 1993 close season, Everton made a bid to sign Quinn and a further bid was made early in the 1993-94 season, but both bids were rejected and Quinn would remain at Maine Road for a further three seasons.
Quinn finished his career with a highly successful spell at Sunderland, joining the north-east club in August 1996 for a club record £1.3million. His partnership with striker Kevin Phillips, signed in the 1997 close season, was one of the most prolific in the Football League in the late 1990s and helped the club to promotion to the Premiership. Quinn also has the distinction of being the first player to score at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, against Manchester City in 1997.
He became a local legend at Sunderland, winning both the Sunderland and North East Sportswriters’ Player of the Year awards in 1999 after scoring 21 goals in Sunderland’s record-breaking Division One title-winning season.
In a league career lasting 17 years, he had played a total of 475 times in the Premier League and Football League, scoring 141 goals.
He received 92 caps for the Republic of Ireland national football team, scoring 21 times, and appearing for the national side at one UEFA European Football Championship in 1988 and two FIFA World Cups in 1990 and 2002.
Quinn had a testimonial match between Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland in 2002. He donated the entire proceeds to charity, an act for which he received a number of awards, including an honorary MBE.
Quinn has also made appearances as a television pundit and commentator for televised matches involving his former teams with Sky Sports.
Quinn released an acclaimed autobiography Niall Quinn – The Autobiography (2002), which was ghostwritten by Tom Humphries and was nominated for a William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.
In June 2006 Quinn successfully brokered a deal to buy a controlling stake in Sunderland AFC. In July 2006 Quinn became the chairman and manager of Sunderland.
In 2008, he received the James Joyce Award of the Literary & Historical Society in University College Dublin.
In October 2011 Ellis Short, the current club owner, replaced Quinn as chairman of Sunderland. Quinn was appointed as Director of International Development on behalf of the club and remained in this role until stepping down in February 2012.
One of the most respected figures in footballing history, Naill Quinnis in demand as an after dinner speaker and event host.