Ex-Celtic and Manchester City attacker opens up on Wembley dream, his decision to join Sunderland and a crazy season

Patrick Roberts can’t wait to play at Wembley Stadium for the first time but says it will only be memorable if Sunderland are promoted.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 6:00 am

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The Black Cats will face Wycombe in the League One play-off final after Alex Neil’s side battled past Sheffield Wednesday over two legs.

Roberts, who joined Sunderland from Manchester City in January, scored the winning goal against The Owls at Hillsborough, and the 25-year-old could now end a roller coaster season on a huge high.

In the first half of the campaign Roberts made just two competitive appearances while on loan at French club Troyes, meaning he was short of game time when he moved to Wearside.

Patrick Roberts playing for Sunderland at Sheffield Wednesday. (Photo: Frank Reid)

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“It’s been a crazy year,” said Roberts following his winning goal against Wednesday. “I can’t really believe it’s going to finish with a game at Wembley, to be honest.

"I look back to October or November, and I was sat in France, wondering what was going on. So, to get an opportunity like this, it’s any footballer’s dream.

"Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of being involved in an occasion like this at Wembley. To get an opportunity to do it with a club like Sunderland is massive for me, but ultimately, it’ll only be an enjoyable experience if we win the game."

After signing for Manchester City as a teenager in 2015, Roberts enjoyed success while on loan at Celtic, but has also endured a handful of challenging loan spells.

While dropping down to League One could have been seen as a backwards move, the attacker felt Sunderland would provide an opportunity to revive his career.

Those aspirations to end the Black Cats’ four-year stay in League One have veered off track at times this season, though, and Roberts had been at the club just over a week when head coach Lee Johnson was sacked in January.

Still, the side have gone on a 15-match unbeaten run under Alex Neil, who has significantly improved Sunderland’s defensive record while also accommodating the attacking players at his disposal.

“As soon as Sunderland came in for me, I jumped at the chance to join – and this was always the aim,” added Roberts.

"The aim was to be in with a shot of getting promotion. The manager has obviously come in with exactly the same aim, and right from the word go, he’s set us up tactically to a tee to achieve that. He puts us on that platform to go out there to do what we do, and right through the team, I think we’ve delivered.

“When I came in, I felt a really good feel for the club. They’re a top team. They shouldn’t be in League One, but you can’t keep saying that – you’ve got to do it on the pitch and I think we’ve shown what we can do.

"Every week, we’ve shown we can grind things out when we need to, and that’s the sign of a good team, with a good manager and good staff. You bring all that together and you can achieve some good things.

“The support has always been great this season. At home the other day, getting 40-odd thousand was incredible. They showed their support, and you just know they’re going to be there again at Wembley.”