Rowell Report: Win the mental battle and a new hero can emerge

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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I WAS behind the goal at Wembley in 1973 when Sunderland won the FA Cup, so I know first-hand that even the biggest giants can be slayed!

Leeds United were far more dominant then in English football, than Man City are now.

And Sunderland were far bigger outsiders, then, than they will be this weekend.

The first thing I must mention about that ’73 Sunderland side was its sheer mental strength and lack of fear.

When they ran out at Wembley that day, they were just brimming with attitude and desire.

And I think that that is the most important thing about Wembley this weekend, Gus Poyet has to pick a team that is mentally strong.

I was an apprentice training with the Sunderland first team at the time in ’73 and when they went to Wembley there was no nerves about them, they were just focused on winning.

That’s what we need from Sunderland this Sunday.

As far as our matchwinner is concerned, all eyes will be on January Player of the Month Adam Johnson, who has in irresistible form and has the capacity to turn a game or score a great goal.

He’s also one of several Sunderland players, who have experience of playing at Wembley and he’s playing against his former club too, which always adds a bit of spice.

I wish Adam all the best and I hope he has a great game.

But looking back to that ’73 game, I’m reminded that it is not always the obvious players, who make their mark in cup finals.

Leeds had 11 full internationals that day but no-one really talks about any of their players, when they look back.

Sunderland had a few match-winners of their own that day – Billy Hughes, Dennis Tueart and Vic Halom had been fantastic during the cup run in front of goal – no-one was talking about Ian Porterfield but it was Porterfield who got the all-important goal and wrote his name into the record books.

As pundits, we will all look at the obvious choices for key players in the Capital One Cup final this weekend.

But every Sunderland player training on the Academy of Light pitches this week should realise that they can be as much a match-day hero as any other.