CANCER victim Marton Fulop has been given tickets to the Capital One Cup final by Sunderland Football Club.
The former Black Cats’ goalkeeper is currently taking a break from football while he deals with his illness and is confident he will one day return to the playing field.
But Sunderland wanted to boost his spirits and the 30-year-old says he could not appreciate the gesture more.
He told the Echo: “It’s a really nice thing for the club to do;.
“I had been talking to friends about how I would love to go to the game – I’ve played for both Sunderland and Manchester City of course – and someone got in touch with the club and they got in touch with me.
“It was completely unexpected but I would like to thank Mags Byrne and the people at the club who organised it. It’s fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the game.”
The 6ft 6in Hungarian will fly into London this weekend for the game but says he will have no problems with divided loyalties on matchday.
“I spent three-and-a-half good years at Sunderland and only a couple of weeks on loan at Manchester City so it’s Sunderland for me.
“I loved my time on Wearside.
“It was a challenge professionally because Craig Gordon and I were at the club at the same time and sometimes he would keep me out and sometimes I would keep him out.
“But I had great times and it was great to play in the Premier League and before that, be part of that amazing promotion under Roy Keane.”
Fulop, who played for Sunderland from 2007-10, has been sidelined for a year now, with a malignant tumour being removed from his arm last June.
He is still battling the illness but is confident he will be able to return to professional football.
“That is what I have to believe and what I do believe,” the 24-times capped Hungarian international told the Echo.
“The doctors have said there’s no reason why I can’t return once I am over this illness and what was encouraging was the amount of clubs that inquired about me in January.”
In the meantime, Fulop has cup final day this weekend.
He recalls: “We never had any sort of cup run when I was at Sunderland, although I did reach the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup with Ipswich Town the season after I left Sunderland, so I know what the excitement is like.
“I’m just very pleased for the Sunderland fans.
“They were always great to me but they are great supporters generally.
“And I always thought the most remarkable thing about them was Sunderland’s away support, how they always sold out away grounds wherever we went.
“That’s one of the the reasons why I’m so glad to be going to Wembley this weekend - it will be great to see Sunderland fans packing out the ground and I hope they have an amazing, amazing day.”
* Meanwhile former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has made a couple of fans’ dreams come true by handing over a pair of tickets for this weekend’s Capital One Cup final.
The Hull City manager was given two tickets by his current employers for this weekend’s show-piece event at Wembley.
But he sent the tickets up to Wearside with a request they be given to Sunderland fans desperate to go.