On February 2, 2019, Lynden Gooch's life changed dramatically. It changed for the better.

That day his partner Talia gave birth to the couple's first child - a boy - Oax Adam Ezra Gooch.

In the final home game of last season three-month old Oax got his first taste of what Daddy does. After the 1-0 home play-off semi-final win over Portsmouth - Sunderland's final home game of the season - the American forward proudly walked round the pitch for the traditional lap of appreciation for supporters proudly clutching his child.

Now ten-months-old, Oax is about to celebrate his first Christmas, a special time for any young family - with family always at the forefront during the festive period.

During a 20-minute sit-down interview with Gooch his demeanor is very serious as he discusses Sunderland's struggles right now, his injuries and recent return and how things have to improve.

The 23-year-old, who celebrates his own birthday on Christmas Eve, can't keep the smile off his face when the topic of conversation switches to his son, however.

"We'll have no time off at Christmas," Gooch said. "We've got the game Boxing Day. I don't really tend to do much for my birthday anyway I just have a meal with my family, and obviously I've got my son this year and it's his first Christmas so it's a nice time for our family.

"Yeah, you get worked hard. But you get looked after as well if you work hard. This is a good period for us to do a lot of good, hard work, and to try and implement things that the manager wants us to understand.

"I love it [parenthood]. Absolutely love it. Me and my partner, we knew we want to be young parents and it is really nice, and he's a good kid so no complaints there."

While Gooch was born in California, he's been part of Sunderland's academy since the age of ten, travelling during school holiday to train until he was 16 when he moved to Wearside.

Partner Talia, meanwhile, is Sunderland born and bred, and Gooch admits Oax will inevitably also be a little Mackem.

"He'll definitely be a little Mackem. Every time he sees the [Sunderland] badge [On my shirt] he wants to play with it," he said with a huge grin.

"So he'll be in for some heartache as well as everyone else I'm sure!

"But yeah, my missus' family they're all Mackems as well so I've no choice really!

"Travelling for away games can be difficult, but my missus is born and bred here, all her family are here, so they are here to help us out a lot as well. They've been brilliant since day one, to make sure I can focus on my football as well."

As anyone who's had children will know, focusing on anything but after having a baby is difficult.

Gooch was very honest in the second half of last season in saying that his form had dipped. At the time, he denied that had anything to do with the new addition to the family.

But ten months on, and after a great start to the new season before injury kept him out of action for seven weeks, Gooch on reflection can see that maybe it was a contributing factor.

He said: "It could be. I said to many people at the time I didn't feel any different to what I was doing at the start of the season when I was scoring a lot of goals and having a lot of assists. But it probably did.

"You know, it's a completely different lifestyle, especially for your first. Your life's completely changed forever. Now he is my priority - for me and my partner. So it was something that probably I didn't realise at the time, but it probably did affect the way I was playing.

"That's one of those things. There's more to life than football, and many people have kids and that's got to be your main priority in life.

"But now, ten months along the line, you learn a lot and you learn how to deal with things and look after yourself. It's all a learning curve. I'm still 23, well, nearly 24."

No doubt, this Christmas will be a special one in the Gooch household. But having returned from the bench last weekend against Blackpool, you can be sure that the forward's Christmas will be even better if he can help Sunderland get back to winning ways when they host Bolton on Boxing Day. Oax will likely be there, cheering on Daddy from the stands.