Grant Leadbitter hails Lee Johnson's impact as he opens up on emotional Wembley win and pays tribute to Sunderland supporters

Grant Leadbitter hailed the impact of Lee Johnson as Sunderland finally ended their long wait for a win at Wembley on Sunday.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:53 am

A tense 1-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers marked the end of a 48-year wait for a win at the national stadium, an emotional day for a midfielder who supported the club as a boy and came up through the ranks on Wearside.

The 35-year-old said that it feels like 'a new era' at the club, following the arrival of Kyril Louis-Dreyfus as majority shareholder and Kristjaan Speakman as Sporting Director.

The experienced midfielder said that Johnson's influence was having a significant impact on the team, who are now unbeaten in nine games across all competitions.

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Sunderland players celebrate with the Papa John's Trophy after the Papa John's Trophy Final match between Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers on March 14, 2021.

“It feels like a new era,” he said.

“The manager has come in and given a freshness to the football club. He’s got ideas, and in the short space of time, he’s shown he cares about players.

"He cares about young players, old players, a big shout out to the manager really. He’s really brought a freshness to the group, and he cares."

It was a bittersweet day both for Leadbitter and his fellow Sunderland supporters, as the long wait for a Wembley win came to an end behind closed doors.

Leadbitter spoke of his disappointment and vowed to push for more honours for supporters watching back home.

“It’s a massive moment, but I just feel sorry for the fans that couldn’t be here, I really do,” Leadbitter said.

“The Sunderland fans have had hurt at Wembley for many, many years, so I’m disappointed that they’re not here because it’s not the same.

“It’ll be massive for them back at home. I’ve been on Facetime with a few friends and family. It’s massive for them – they’re in tears, they want to be here, but we know we’ve got the support.

"It’s special winning a trophy, but we want more things. We want to keep succeeding.”

Leadbitter urged his side to stay focused ahead of the League One run in ahead of a crucial week of fixtures.

The Black Cats travel to Accrington Stanley on Wednesday before third-placed Lincoln City visit the Stadium of Light this weekend.

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