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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Sunderland midfielder leads boyhood club to play-off final a day after mother's tragic death

Grant Leadbitter didn’t tell the majority of the squad about her passing before the win over Portsmouth.

Leadbitter lined out for the Black Cats at Fratton Park last night.
Leadbitter lined out for the Black Cats at Fratton Park last night.
Image: Richard Sellers

SUNDERLAND BOOKED THEIR place in the League One play-off final at Wembley last night — thanks to a 0-0 draw away to Portsmouth

Having claimed a 1-0 victory in the first leg, the Black Cats saw out the tie at Fratton Park and they will face either Charlton Athletic of Doncaster Rovers for a place in English football’s second tier. 

Grant Leadbitter played 90 minutes in the middle of the park, and today revealed that he did so despite losing his mother just hours earlier.

She tragically passed away on Wednesday following a battle with cancer, but the 33-year-old — who returned to his boyhood club from Middlesbrough in January — kept the news a secret from all but two of his team-mates to ensure they got the job done. 

“The last couple of days have been tough, not just myself, but my two sisters too,” Leadbitter posted on Instagram.

“To lose my mam on Wednesday was horrible but I know now she is at peace after a tough battle of 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 #ilovethisclub #hawaythelads”

In October 2008, Leadbitter celebrated emotionally with his team-mates and then-manager Roy Keane after scoring for Sunderland against Arsenal.

His father, Brian, had died weeks beforehand and his ashes were buried under the grass at the Stadium of Light. 

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Arsenal - Stadium Of Light The Sunderland players and management staff celebrate Leadbitter's goal against Arsenal. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

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Ben Blake

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