SUNDERLAND fans around the globe are waking up full of excitement this morning as the Black Cats prepare for their clash with Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final.
More than 30,000 Sunderland fans have headed to Wembley with high hopes for victory, and thousands more will be watching the game with family and friends at home or out on the town.
A win today would see Sunderland earn their first trophy since the 1973 – but just getting to the final seems like a dream come true for fans whose team not so long ago where stuck firmly at the bottom of the relegation zone.
Gus Poyet said: “I was told last week that if I want to be famous or a hero in Sunderland then I need to win the cup. It puts pressure on us but I love it.”
The match also coincided with star keeper Vito Mannone’s 26th birthday, and the Italian has admitted he’s been practicing penalties incase he needs to be Sunderland’s shoot out king once more.
He said: “When you are a kid, you look at people lifting the cups and it’s really emotional. You want to be in there.
“Each one of us always watched the TV and thought ‘I want to be a winner and lift the cup’. We will all be thinking that today.”
Pubs in Sunderland are bracing themselves for thousands of fans hitting the town to catch the match in what is expected to be a very atmospheric occasion in the city centre.
Bars and other businesses have risen to the occasion, with red and white stripes and Black Cats badges everywhere, and the cup final is expected to bring a boost to Sunderland’s economy.
Many have been running special products and promotions in the build up to the big day.
Harry Collinson, chairman of Sunderland City Centre Traders’ Association, said: “You can feel it around the city centre that the customers are buzzing and the pubs, bars and coffee shops have been packed out.
“The city centre will be an ocean of people and independent Sunderland businesses can only benefit from that.”
Sunderland city council leader Paul Watson said: “The success of the football club is hugely important to people in Sunderland, fans across the region, the country and across the world as everyone wants to see them do well.”
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