And former manager Steve Bruce insisted he was hounded out by fans in 2011 because of his Geordie roots.
But O'Neill claims fans will "forgive" if you produce the goods.
Sunderland won the FA Cup final 40 years ago under Tyneside-born ex-Toon player Bob Stokoe who has a monument dedicated to him at the Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland boss said: "There is a statue outside the football club here to a Geordie.
"If you can do something for the club the fans are willing to forgive and forget. You can grow up supporting a team.
"When you become a professional player that's your job, it's your job to play the best for your team."