Elliott Dickman hailed the “awesome” Sunderland support after more than 18,000 fans turned out for last night’s cup final against Porto.
The Under-23s’ boss was taken aback by the level of support, a record crowd for the Premier League International Cup, adding he felt like the team let the supporters down.
In total, 18,317 supporters watched Sunderland go down 5-0 to Porto B, who play in the second tier of Portuguese football.
And Dickman has thanked the supporters for turning out in force, with supporters staying behind to applaud the impressive Porto players as they lifted aloft the trophy on the pitch.
Dickman said: “The crowd was awesome. I can’t thank them enough. It feels like we have let them down and I include myself in that.
“They came out in force and got behind the team unbelievably well – 18,000 fans trying to help us win a prestigious tournament.
“When you get beat 5-0, it feels like you have let them down. I can only apologise if they feel that way, but we gave our best and gave it everything.
“The support was superb and, at the end, they were clapping the Porto players – the appreciation speaks volume of Sunderland supporters.
“The players can take positives from the experience, the fact there was 18,000 fans cheering us on and they should never forget that. I certainly won’t – it will go to the grave with me.
“The fact they have turned up to support us and get behind in such numbers, it is very unique.
“Manchester United turned up one year back in the day with a lot of fans, but, at Under-23s level, I have never seen anything like that and the lads can take a lot out of tonight.”
Meanwhile, skipper Ethan Robson went off at the break with a back injury.
Dickman added: “Ethan picked up a back problem. When he was getting some treatment at the break, it went into spasm.
“Unfortunately for him, his night was done at half-time.”