Grant Leadbitter helped Sunderland to Wembley the day after his mother's death

Grant Leadbitter and Gareth Evans
Grant Leadbitter (left) played the full 90 minutes at Fratton Park

Grant Leadbitter helped Sunderland reach the League One play-off final just a day after his mother died.

The 33-year-old midfielder played the full 90 minutes of the Black Cats' 0-0 semi-final second leg draw with Portsmouth on Thursday at Fratton Park.

Leadbitter's mother, Susan, died of cancer on Wednesday.

He spoke about her passing in an Instagram post on Friday as he thanked supporters for their condolences, support and kind messages.

"Last couple of days have been tough, not just myself but my two sisters too," he said.

"To lose my mam on Wednesday was horrible, but I know now she is at peace now. 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.

"Lastly, the job is far from done, we have one more tough game to go."

Leadbitter came through Sunderland's academy and returned to the club in January after spells with Ipswich and Middlesbrough.

His father, Brian, died in 2008 aged 50 and his ashes were buried under the pitch at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland will now face either Charlton or Doncaster in the League One play-off final at Wembley on Sunday, 26 May.

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