Tony Coton has become Sunderland's head of recruitment ahead of the club's first League One campaign in 30 years.
The 57-year-old played 10 games for the Black Cats after joining them in August 1996, but a broken leg that October at Southampton ended his playing career.
He moves to the Stadium of Light from Aston Villa, where he has been chief scout since 2015, having also held a similar role with Wigan Athletic.
As a goalkeeper, Coton played more than 600 games in a 16-year career.
"Tony played a vital role in reshaping Aston Villa's squad and ensuring it was equipped to do well in the Football League," Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald told the club website.
"Working alongside Jack (Ross, Sunderland manager), his appointment will help ensure we can hit the ground running and attract the right type of players to Sunderland."