South Shields FC favourite Julio Arca shared his Wembley joy with Gazette readers yesterday.
Julio, who has played a crucial role in the Mariners’ run to the FA Vase final, visited the Gazette’s office.
The former Sunderland AFC star was involved in a live question and answer session on Facebook, and spoke to fans about all things South Shields.
The 36-year-old also talked about his days at Sunderland, when he established himself as a firm favourite with supporters, and discussed his thoughts on the current Black Cats team’s plight.
He visited the Gazette office on the back of reaching a third final of the season with Shields, with the Mariners having progressed to the League Cup final on Wednesday.
Julio received plenty of well-wishes in the Facebook Q and A.
He said: “I really enjoyed the interview and the chance to interact live with the fans.
“The majority of them were asking about South Shields, which shows you how excited people are at the moment.
“A lot of people were wishing us well for Wembley and all the competitions we’re trying to win, and it’s great to feel that support.”
Julio and his Shields team-mates are second in the Northern League Division One table, and now have a run of vital league fixtures.
He added: “We’re into three finals now and still have a chance in the league, so there’s a lot to play for.
“We’re in a good position and hopefully we can continue our good form so we win some trophies.
“It’s really nice to get to three finals, but we’re not just happy to go into them and lose. We want to win them all.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up thick and fast and just need to keep winning.”
Shields are set to be backed by thousands of fans in the Vase final against Cleethorpes Town at Wembley on May 21.
The match will come at the end of another season when the support base has grown hugely, with a record crowd of 3,454 having watched the Mariners beat Coleshill Town in the second leg of the semi-final.
Julio said: “We knew this was going to be a big season and we were going to get a lot of support, but didn’t expect anything like this.
“The support is fantastic, and is getting better and better. Everybody is excited about being in three cup finals and hopefully we can continue the form in the league games.”