Jermain Defoe admits he was left with “goosebumps” by a Stadium of Light atmosphere which again had him welling up.
Top scorer Defoe famously cried as he came off the pitch following his wonder goal in last season’s Wear-Tyne derby and the 33-year-old was struggling to hold back the tears once more after netting his 18th of the campaign in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Chelsea.
Defoe’s strike gave Sunderland the lead just three minutes after they had been trailing and sparked wild celebrations inside the Stadium of Light, with the England international hoping for a similarly electric atmosphere for Wednesday’s visit of Everton.
“Goosebumps, to be honest. It was unbelievable,” said Defoe when asked about the noise which greeted his goal.
“It’s been like that all season. The fans have been fantastic.
“For the players, it was just a case of staying calm and forgetting about the occasion and how important the game was, and try to get a result against a top Chelsea team.
“Credit to the fans. I thank them on behalf of the players.
“Now it’s important we recover ahead of a massive game on Wednesday.”
Sunderland hadn’t triumphed at the Stadium of Light since February and hadn’t even found the net in their previous three home outings.
But even when last season’s Premier League champions took advantage of some soft Sunderland defending to take a 2-1 lead into the interval, Sam Allardyce’s men continued to push for victory.
The rewards were huge, with Sunderland now needing just two points from the final two games to secure their place in the Premier League and relegate both Newcastle and Norwich.
“We managed to do it, with unbelievable character from the boys,” added Defoe.
“I’ve always been confident. At no stage, have I thought about us getting relegated.
“From the goalkeeper all the way through the team, it was unbelievable.”