FORMER Black Cats skipper Michael Gray is set to come face to face with the keeper who saved his penalty in the play-offs.
Micky was devastated when, in 1998, he missed the decisive penalty during a shoot-out in the First Division play-off final after a 4–4 draw with Charlton Athletic, which could have taken Sunderland back into the Premier League.
The epic clash has been hailed in the footballing history books as one of the most thrilling matches to have been played at Wembley.
Now, 14 years later, Micky will meet his nemesis once more for a talk-in with former goalkeeper Sasa Illic and former SAFC team-mate Chris Makin.
Micky, who is now a football pundit, said: “It’s something I still get asked about 10 times a day. The whole build-up to it throughout the season came down to one kick of the ball which is why it’s something that sticks in people’s minds.
“It’s known as one of the top 10 games at Wembley. I was devastated at the time. As a local lad playing for my team, it’s something I didn’t want to do, but it came down to me and unfortunately I missed. It was a big disappointment to me, the team and the fans.
“Fortunately, the season after that we went on to rewrite the history books when we scored 105 points in the Championship.”
Micky retook the penalty in training when he was on loan to Blackburn Rovers and Sasa was a goalkeeper at Leeds. That time he scored the goal and says there’s no ill feeling between the players.
“Sasa’s a really nice man,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of laughs and jokes on the night of the talk-in. We all have some great stories to tell.”
The talk-in is being hosted by SAFC fanzine Seventy3 on August 25 at The Corner Flag in High Street West to launch issue 10 of the magazine.
Editor-in-chief Mal Robinson said: “On the back of the success of Seventy3’s first talk-in on the 13th of July, we are looking forward massively to the next one with Chris Makin, Micky Gray and former Charlton keeper Sasa Illic.
“As with the magazine we always feel it’s important to add something different and by having Sasa there it gives the fans another alternative of one of Sunderland’s most famous modern-day games – that being the 1998 play-off final.
“We are actually going to look at getting Micky to retake the penalty so I hope he’s been practising.”
Micky regularly contributes to the fanzine which offers a retro take on SAFC’s history and its stars.
l Tickets are £10 and include a pie and peas supper. They are available from tel. 447 6608;,behind the bar at The Corner Flag or from www.seventy3magazine.co.uk