JASON Steele admitted it was a ‘dream come true’ after securing a return to the Championship by signing for Sunderland.

Steele left Rovers last night, joining the Black Cats on a four year deal for an undisclosed fee, reported to be in the region of £500,000.

Sunderland turned to the 26-year-old to plug the gap in their goalkeeping department after seeing Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone leave following relegation from the Premier League.

The move sees the goalkeeper return to the North East almost three years after joining Rovers, initially on loan, from Middlesbrough where he came through the ranks and first worked with Tony Mowbray.

“I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s a dream come true to sign for such a massive club,” Steele told Sunderland’s official website.

“My family are pretty much split between the three north east clubs, so I spent my childhood watching them all and I remember coming to the Stadium of Light with my uncle and cousin.

“I’ve got a lot of experience and played a lot of games – most of which are in the same league – and that’s probably one of the reasons why the gaffer has signed me.

“Hopefully I can help the team and I’m sure we’ll have a good season.

“I want just want to work hard, try my best and help the team push on.”

Steele made 136 appearances for Rovers, including a run of 82 consecutive league starts until injury forced him to miss the final five games of last season as Rovers were relegated from League One.

David Raya impressed in Steele’s absence at the end of last year, keeping three clean sheets in the final five games despite relegation from the Championship.

And the Spaniard, who signed a new long-term deal with the club earlier this year, has been preferred to Steele in the pre-season games so far, including Tuesday night’s friendly win at Grimsby Town.

Raya has started just 15 Championship games for Rovers, and the club will now look to source a replacement for Steele as back-up to the 21-year-old.

Speaking of the interest in Steele after Tuesday’s win at Grimsby Town, head coach Mowbray told the Lancashire Telegraph: “What I would say to our supporters is that somewhere down the line to finish the squad off we probably need to create financial space in the budget.

“If that means that we decide to let one player go that we would ideally like to keep then we will do that.”

Rovers have also rebuffed interest in Darragh Lenihan from Sheffield United and also warned Queens Park Rangers off Elliott Bennett.

Mowbray added: “There’s a few people looking at our players at the moment and thinking we are vulnerable, but my message is loud and clear, we are not vulnerable financially.

“If anyone leaves it will be my decision and done because the money and salary will be used to strengthen other parts of the team.”