‘I can't be any prouder of the players’ - Former defender reflects on Sunderland’s emotional win at Wembley over Wycombe Wanderers

Sunderland sealed promotion back to the Championship yesterday, ending their four year stay in League One.

By Joe Buck
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 9:00 am

Elliot Embleton’s early strike set Sunderland on their way yesterday before Ross Stewart’s late goal clinched promotion for the Black Cats.

Roared on by the huge numbers of supporters that made the trip to the capital, Sunderland were able to repel Wycombe throughout the second-half, even when the Chairboys looked like growing stronger and stronger into the game.

It was an emotional afternoon at Wembley and their former defender Michael Gray admitted that he feared the worst as Gareth Ainsworth’s side started to find their feet:

“I can see the game is drifting away from them in the second-half. They lost their heads a little bit, you know, the football wasn’t there, they were booting the ball forward.” A visibly emotional Gray told TalkSport.

“It was Wycombe that started to play and you’re thinking the equaliser is going to come because of what happens in this stadium but they hung on and they hung on.

“And you get to that moment where Ross Stewart gets that last goal and the relief on everyone's shoulders is there. Just fantastic.”

As Black Cats supporters know only too well, Gray doesn’t have the fondest of play-off memories with Sunderland - something that makes yesterday’s result only that bit sweeter for the 48-year-old, describing the win as a ‘special’ moment for the club:

Sunderland supporters celebrating the Wembley win

"It is special, it really is special just to see this in front of us at Wembley,” he said. "I didn't think it was ever going to happen.

“Every time you come here you have that expectation that things aren't going to go your way.

"What a group of players. Alex Neil coming in halfway through a season. What he has achieved at this football club, at my football club. They never deserved to be in League One in the first place.

"They have had to spend four years there and we have done it the hard way of getting out this league. It's just incredible. I can't be any prouder of the players. It is a special moment and something they will never forget."