Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, facetime calls and a special moment for Grant Leadbitter: Inside Sunderland’s passionate Wembley celebrations

Thousands of Sunderland fans will have watched the Wembley win and the subsequent celebrations via live streams – but there are those few moments that the cameras don’t capture.

By Mark Donnelly
Monday, 15th March 2021, 10:00 am

We take a look at some of the moments you might have missed from the memorable triumph – and delve deeper into the celebrations:


Even after the most vital of wins, Lee Johnson’s full-time reactions are usually muted.

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, facetime calls and a special moment for Grant Leadbitter: Inside Sunderland’s passionate Wembley celebrations

He may indulge in a small fist-pump, before then heading to congratulate the opposition manager.

But Wembley is a different kettle of fish, and and his reaction to the full-time whistle against Tranmere Rovers was notably more passionate.

A big cheer, a hug for Jamie McAllister and a double-handed fist pump.

And he wasn’t alone in that regard. On the pitch, the cries of joy from Sunderland’s squad were audible inside an eerily quiet Wembley, while in the directors’ box old and new collided as Stewart Donald and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus shared a brief hug.

A moment for all to enjoy.


This was a moment for all to enjoy.

Even those unused substitutes on the bench got among the action post-match, with the likes of Oliver Younger, Anthony Patterson and Ross Stewart having a quick change - swapping their tracksuits for playing kits - before then getting photos with the trophy.

It’s all about the photographs, after all!


Louis-Dreyfus’ celebration wasn’t just limited to the directors’ box.

After Sunderland lifted the trophy, the new chairman headed pitchside to congratulate the players and staff off the club.

As he waited by the tunnel, he ensured every player who left the field received a congratulatory fist bump, while he held long talks with skipper Max Power and goalscorer Lynden Gooch.

And eagle-eyed fans also noticed the nod to the past by the majority shareholder, who wore the club’s old ship badge on his Wembley suit.

Here’s hoping this isn’t the last time we see Louis-Dreyfus celebrating at Sunderland.


After the trophy was safely back in the dressing room, the Papa John’s banners tidied away and the lawnmowers out on the turf, a few Sunderland players took a quiet moment away from the drama of the dressing room.

Luke O’Nien and Grant Leadbitter both headed back onto the pitch, while on facetime calls with their families to share in the special moment.

There’s no doubt this triumph would have been better were fans and family allowed to attend - but at least the squad could have their family involved in a memorable day in a virtual fashion.


Two big games, and two occasions where Sunderland can get the tunes on (we’ve removed a word, there…).

Max Power’s Instagram following the game offered a glimpse into the dressing room post-match, as he again told the club’s kit man to get the tunes on.

The dressing room celebration also allowed the likes of Jordan Jones and Dion Sanderson - who were forced to watch the trophy lift from the stands - to join in the celebrations.


It was fitting that Leadbitter, who has experienced so much hurt with this club, was the one to carry the trophy back down the tunnel and into the dressing room.

And he did so with a beaming smile, in what was undoubtedly a special moment for the experienced midfielders.

He’s been through every range of emotion with this club, but few moments will have topped that one.


Before the celebrations started and the tunes were put on, there was the small matter of the 90 minutes of football.

Sunderland were without their usual vocal backing from Wearside - but found some new cheerleaders in the shape of cup-tied duo Sanderson and Carl Winchester and the injured Aiden O’Brien.

The trio were pictured on the big screen, and live on Sky Sports, before kick-off - and clearly enjoyed that the cameras were capturing them!

Grins and laughs were shared and chants started, and the trio continued to vociferously back the side throughout the game.

Another example of the excellent team spirit being cultivated.


Track your minds back to the Doncaster home game, if you can.

Aiden McGeady turned on the ball in the middle before threading an inch-perfect pass into the path of Lynden Gooch.

The American advanced forward before firing at goal – but saw his shot saved.

Fast-forward to Wembley, and there were plenty of similarities in the move that led to Sunderland’s goal.

McGeady fashioned space, played the pass and Gooch was again in.

This time, however, the outcome was different. Gooch’s finish was precise and well-taken.

It was the one moment of quality in what was otherwise a fairly scrappy encounter, and Gooch deserves plenty of credit for keeping his cool.

But that ball...


It spoke volumes about the impact Jack Diamond made that Lee Johnson made a point of referencing him in his post-match interview.

His opportunities have been limited in recent weeks but he did exactly what was required of him at Wembley. He carried the ball forward, eased the pressure and won Sunderland some vital free-kicks.

He had some opportunities to score, too, and looked a threat on the break as Sunderland looked to see out the final few minutes.

A fine cameo, and one which will hopefully lead to more opportunities in the not-too-distant future.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor