Grant Leadbitter has thanked fans for their messages of support after his mother tragically lost her battle with cancer.
The boyhood Sunderland fan played a starring role in the play-off aggregate win over Portsmouth on Thursday night, just a day after suffering his bereavement.
Leadbitter wrote on instagram: "Last couple of days have been tough not just myself but my 2 sisters too.
"To lose my mam on Wednesday was horrible but I know know she is at peace now after a tough battle with cancer. She now rests alongside my Dad. Life throws you curve balls and we all have to keep fighting.
"I wanted to play last night because my mam and dad would be disappointed if I didn't.
"Thanks for your support and kind messages.
"Lastly, the job is far from done, we have one more tough game to go.
"#RIPmam #ilovethis club #hawaythelads."