Lee Cattermole and Jack Ross urge Sunderland to make history and seize silverware chance against Portsmouth
The Checkatrade Trophy may be frowned upon in some quarters but Jack Ross has urged his players to write themselves into the Sunderland history books with victory against Portsmouth.
Experienced midfielder Lee Cattermole echoed the views of his manager ahead of Sunday’s showpiece Wembley final.
Cattermole has been on the losing side in two major finals, the 2006 Uefa Cup with Middlesbrough and 2014 League Cup with Sunderland.
And he is determined not to miss the chance of winning silverware for a third time, fully appreciative of the fact cup finals don’t come around too often.
Cattermole said: “Have a look on Sunday and see if it is a big game or not, that’s all I’d say!
“There will be massive numbers there, great viewing for everyone, an unbelievable atmosphere and it will be tense but I believe we have the quality and maturity to win it.
“It is a big game, we deserve to be there, lets go and finish it off.
“To win at Wembley would be great, it would mean a lot to me and my family, I have a lot of people going down there.
“We are professional sportsmen and competitive and want to win the game, it would mean a hell of a lot.
“It is a special occasion and some people may never do it in their careers.”
A Checkatrade Trophy win, of course, wouldn’t compare with lifting the FA Cup and Ross would not be expecting a statue like legendary SAFC boss Bob Stokoe’s outside the Stadium of Light.
But nevertheless the Scot has told his players to grasp the opportunity to bring silverware back to Wearside.
Ross said: “I have a long way to go before I will be revered in such a way!
“I respect people’s views on the competition but this is a chance to achieve something, to go down in the history books of the club.
“Nobody can take that away from you and it is not something you should ever turn your nose up at and we have players and staff who have bought into that.
“You can have players who have terrific careers but never win anything.
“It is really hard to win a title and winning any cup competition you need a lot of things to fall your way.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
“You don’t get that many chances. I have been quite lucky in management so far, I have had the championship victory [in Scotland] but lost a cup final as well.
“To get to these occasions is enjoyable and you need to enjoy it as you never know what will happen for the rest of your career.
“It is as simple as saying this is a cup, there is silverware and a winners’ medal at stake.
“Players have to strip it back to that and understand these opportunities don’t come around all too often.
“Every single one of them has the chance to make a memory that will include them as part of the club’s history and they can also look back on with pride.”
Cattermole started the 2014 League Cup final against Manchester City, Gus Poyet’s side taking an early lead through Fabio Borini before losing 3-1.
And given the huge support base of both clubs, with Sunderland and Portsmouth both bringing around 40,000 fans, Cattermole is expecting a similar atmosphere.
Cattermole, 31, added: “I can’t imagine it feeling any different to the League Cup final, it had that feel that was different from a normal game, were you are more nervous but once the game starts you drop into game mode.
“We played really well on the day but we got beat and there was nothing to celebrate.
“I have never talked about the cup final since we got beat, if we’d won I’d have mentioned it a lot more!
“I played in a cup final with Middlesbrough in my first season, I was fortunate enough to get on the pitch though we were 4-0 down [to Sevilla] at the time.
“Looking back it was great to get on the pitch at that age, I’ll never do that again. Of course you have to win the game to really enjoy it and then you can look back fondly.
“I fancied us to beat City to be fair, we had beaten them a couple of times under Gus and fancied our chances. On the day they scored two great goals.
“But this final is a game that is probably a 50-50 game and we are strong enough to beat anyone in this league.
“We will do our homework and have a good gameplan, we want to go there and win.”