SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Swede dreams of title, Leadbitter hails Yorke
Here's what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.
SWEDE DREAMS OF TITLE DOUBLE:
Hysen desperate to seal family medal brace
TOBY HYSEN is targeting a dream father-and-son double.
The Sunderland winger is desperate to get his hands on the trophy dad Glenn lifted with Liverpool in 1990.
That was the 18th and last time Liverpool finished as England’s top club.
But the famous trophy was kept by the Football League after the Premiership was born and Championship-winners Sunderland are now in pole position.
Hysen said: “My dad had a great first season in England and things are shaping up well for us in my first season.
“He won the Charity Shield at Wembley on his Liverpool debut and won the league in his first season.
“I didn’t know until recently that Championship winners get the same trophy.
“Obviously, the prize my dad won was bigger because he was with the champions of England.
“But it would be a nice family double if we can hold on to our lead and win that trophy.”
Sunderland took over at the top of the Championship after beating Southampton 2-1 on Monday.
There are four games to go in the season and Queens Park Rangers are the Black Cats’ next opponents at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Hysen is eager to retain his place in the side after replacing Ross Wallace to feature in the Saints victory.
And he hopes there will be another bumper crowd after almost 41,000 turned out to see Saturday’s home triumph over Wolves.
The 25-year-old Swede said: “It was great to get the start at Southampton and be part of the win that put us on top of the league.
“Ross has got back into the team recently and scored a couple of important goals against Cardiff and Wolves.
“But the gaffer likes to keep things fresh and that was shown to be the right decision on Monday because we were the stronger side in the closing stages and scored the late goals.
“Of course I’d love to start on Saturday, but we can see what the gaffer’s about and we all support each other in the squad regardless of who plays.
“Our fans have been incredible all season. Taking 3,000 all the way to Southampton when the game was on TV says everything.
“I’m sure they’ll be right behind us against QPR and they make a big difference.”
Sunderland have something to hold onto now after hunting down the leading pack with a relentless run since the turn of the year.
But, with four games to go, boss Roy Keane stressed that the job is far from done.
And Hysen said;: “The gaffer will make sure we don’t get carried away with ourselves.
“They don’t hand out the prizes until May. But we’re top now and if we win all of our games then we stay there.”
LEADBITTER HAILS YORKE INFLUENCE IN PROGRESS:
SUNDERLAND midfielder Grant Leadbitter has paid tribute to Dwight Yorke – after learning so much from the veteran former Manchester United star this season.
The 35-year-old Trinidad and Tobago legend has been an influential presence in midfield for Sunderland since joining in August, with home-grown talent Leadbitter reaping the benefit.
“For me, Dwight Yorke’s been a massive influence, on and off the pitch,” said Leadbitter, who grabbed Monday’s winner in the memorable victory at Southampton.
“He’s got that character which rubs off on the young players. He’s been fantastic with me and helped me along.
“He’s a calming influence around the pitch. I’m playing with a lot more confidence and calm now in certain situations.”
Leadbitter has also learned a lot from manager Roy Keane, and is delighted to have taken his goal tally from midfield to an impressive six with his well-taken strike at St Mary’s.
“The gaffer’s given me a lot of confidence to score goals,” the 21-year-old said. “I feel confident I’ve added that to my game.
“I’m really pleased with the way things are going this season but you want to better yourself day in, day out. Tomorrow, next week I’ll want to make myself a better player.
“I’ve loved all this season. I’m really enjoying my football but I want to better myself every day.”
Sunderland now enter the last four games of the Championship campaign in pole position in the league – and are clear favourites to land the title, for the fourth time in 12 seasons.
Leadbitter added: “Anyone who looks at it will have no doubt we’ve got the best squad in the league.
“The competition for places is good for the team. You’ve got to have a good squad and I think we’ve got a great one.
“Hopefully we can keep on now and get promotion.”