WATCH: Sunderland's Steven Fletcher praises Brothers in Arms - and tells why Remembrance is so important for him

Steven Fletcher.

Steven Fletcher.

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Sunderland star Steven Fletcher has stood side-by-side with families who have lost loved ones serving in the armed forces as the city prepares for Remembrance Sunday.

The 28-year-old striker visited the Brothers in Arms memorial with the parents of Nathan Cuthbertson, who was just 19 when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2008.

Nathan's parents Tom and Carla were one of a number of families involved in the appeal to build the wall, which stands next to the Sunderland's war memorial on Burdon Road.

Fletcher said: "(Tom's) a very inspiration man. I was speaking to him there and the things he has done here are fantastic, the wall especially.

"People can come here and show respect for those who lost their lives for us."

Tom said he hoped Nathan could look down and be proud of what had been achieved by Brothers in Arms.

Nathan Cuthbertson

Nathan Cuthbertson

"We haven't lost focus, we've continued our work, we haven't fallen by the wayside," he said. "This has been a help and a distraction, and it couldn't have been achieved without the football club and the council, and everybody else."

Remembrance Sunday is also a particularly important time for Fletcher, who was just ten years old when his father Kenny died while serving in the Army.

The 37-year-old was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and served twice in Belize.

“He was football mad and he wanted me to become a footballer," said Fletcher. “When he was passing away, he said to my uncle, ‘Make sure he makes it’. My uncle took that on.

Tom and Carla Cuthbertson with then-Mayor of Sunderland Norma Wright and fellow Brothers in Arms members Linda Fisken, Brenda Gooch and Janice Murray at the dedication of the wall.

Tom and Carla Cuthbertson with then-Mayor of Sunderland Norma Wright and fellow Brothers in Arms members Linda Fisken, Brenda Gooch and Janice Murray at the dedication of the wall.

“I feel like there’ll always be something missing. I just always want to make my dad proud.

“I always look up to him when I score but I’ll be thinking about him even more this weekend.

“He wasn’t killed in action but he was in the Army when he passed away. So this is a time to make me remember the good times I had with him.”

The Striker said had he not made it as a professional footballer, he would have become a soldier himself.

Tom and Carla Cuthberson at the annual Cuthy's 200 bike ride, which takes place every year to remember Nathan and raise funds for Brothers in Arms and other causes.

Tom and Carla Cuthberson at the annual Cuthy's 200 bike ride, which takes place every year to remember Nathan and raise funds for Brothers in Arms and other causes.

His mum, Mary, was also in the Army, and he has two uncles and cousins who still serve today.

“With quite a lot of my family working in the Army, it was a choice I had as well and I did consider it — when I did work experience at school I went to the Army for the week," he said.

“But football was the No 1 thing I wanted to do and I got the opportunity so I took that and signed professionally for Hibernian.

“I learnt to play football on the Army camps — they had teams for the kids. Wherever we lived, my dad made sure I was in the team.

“I had about 13 different houses before I was ten and twice lived in Germany, where my little sister was born.

“It was hard seeing your dad get posted away for six months when you were younger.

“But obviously he was away for a good reason and it was good upbringing.”

He added: “I’ve still got family serving in the Army and they’re doing everyone proud. It is a very privileged lifestyle we (footballers) live and they keep my feet on the ground.”

Remembering the fallen through football

Sunderland, along with Leicester, were the first club to wear poppies on their shirts 11 years ago.

Today players will again don the emblem at Stadium of Light when they take on Southampton.