'GIANT of a man': Sunderland fans emotional response to 'selfless' Grant Leadbitter after midfielder's sad bereavement
Grant Leadbitter played in Sunderland's second leg play-off draw with Portsmouth last night despite his mother, Susan, sadly passing away on Wednesday.
Sunderland triumphed in the first leg at the Stadium of Light through Chris Maguire's right-footed volley, meaning the Black Cats needed a draw at Fratton Park to advance to the final.
Not only did the former Middlesbrough man make himself available to manager Jack Ross for selection a day losing his mother to cancer - the former Park View School pupil controlled the game.
Alongside Lee Cattermole in the middle, the 33-year-old steered his side to the 0-0 draw needed to progress to Wembley for the second time this season.
The final whistle prompted an emotional response from Leadbitter, who sunk to his knees in celebration, later tightly embracing captain George Honeyman.
Leadbitter's father, Brian, passed away in 2008 and his ashes are buried under the Stadium of Light pitch.
Born in Chester-le-Street to a Sunderland mad family, Leadbitter has always been highly thought of on Wearside - but his professionalism and selflessness certainly struck a cord with Black Cats fans.
Here's what you said:
@danwalkerxx: "Grant Leadbitter = selfless human being lost his mum yesterday and still finds the strength to pull on a shirt and play for the fans and his team what a guy you’ve done your mam proud son we love you grant #safc"
@MJJ93__ 15h15: "words can’t describe what must of been going through Grant Leadbitter’s head after losing his mam yesterday, but his professionalism and love for this club has helped us get back to Wembley, what a credit to his family. He’s Sunderland and he’s Sunderland through and through."
@PlannerMarj: "Grant Leadbitter’s Mam passed away last night. To play tonight is testament to his strength of character. I met his late mam and dad years ago on the away buses and they were both proper Sunderland supporters and lovely people. You did them and yourself proud Grant. #safc"
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@ChrisJNicks: "Huge respect to Grant Leadbitter for getting through the game last night, given the circumstances. #safc #bravery
@SAFCFANSVIEW: "Grant Leadbitter’s performance tonight a day after he lost his mother! Sunderland is in his veins! What a man! #SAFC"
@KieWeatherall_: "Grant Leadbitter what a legend. Playing in the game tonight after his mother passing away yesterday, shows you how much this club means to him. He 100% did his mother proud tonight."
@h6956: "Hats off to @GrantLeadbitter To put in a performance like that after such devastating news is simply astounding. A real hero."
@eve3206: Inspirational stuff from Grant Leadbitter playing 24 hours after losing his mam, strong strong man
@philsbestmate: "Grant Leadbitter......GIANT of a man.....#safc"
@tiernagekicks: "Grant Leadbitter is a great leader and just generally a great example of a footballer, loses his mam the day before a massive game and still puts in that effort and performance"
@hughesy08: "To try and put something this upsetting and tough to one side for our club is truly commendable! You have the support of not only every fan at @SunderlandAFC but the whole football community behind you!"
@Lauren_McLeish: "My Mam died nearly 20 years ago, my Dad nearly 23, and there’s some days, even now, that I can’t leave the house. Grant Leadbitter deserves every bit of praise for his unbelievable strength, resilience and tenacity to put his shirt on and give a mint performance last night."