Andrew Nelson has called on his Sunderland teammates to use the disappointment of the heavy cup final defeat to Porto B as motivation for next season.
The club’s Under-23 side were thoroughly outclassed 5-0 by their Portuguese counterparts in the final of the Premier League International Cup in front of a record crowd.
More than 18,000 supporters watched the final at the Stadium of Light and Nelson, who made his return from a knee injury as a second half sub, says Sunderland must use it as a learning curve.
Nelson said: “I only returned to training last week but spoke to the gaffer and said I’d love to be involved in the game, there was so much hype around the game and occasion.
“I thank the medical and backroom staff really because they have helped me get this far and come back before this final, they have helped me play in a fantastic occasion and for that I can only thank them.
“It has been great for us, it is a learning experience.
“We take this into next season and if we ever get this far again, we look back and remember this night and see how far we got and how hard it will be to win and use it as a motivator.”
Nelson, who made four appearances for Hartlepool United in February before injury cut short his loan spell, played the final 30 minutes having come on for Rees Greenwood.
“The support was unbelievable,” said 19-year-old Nelson.
“When I was at Hartlepool on loan that was the biggest crowd I had played in front of until this game. Growing up through the academy you dream of playing in front of these crowds here.
“To get so many fans was amazing and the lads all appreciate it.
“It was great to see so many people behind us and I think we deserved that recognition for how well we have done in the competition.
“We did so well to reach the final, it is a European final at the end of the day. Fair play to Porto they did everything well and unfortunately they were too much for us.”