Sunderland Echo

Mendonca: I only wish it was against anyone else


Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca has recalled the moment he almost signed for the Black Cats – before scoring three goals against them for Charlton Athletic in the 1998 First Division play-off final.

It’s 25 years since the memorable 4-4 draw at Wembley, which Charlton won 7–6 on penalties.

Mendonca almost missed the game due to an injury – but while he still gets stick for denying his boyhood club promotion, he insists he was simply doing his job.

“I’d been struggling with my back, but I just knew we were playing Sunderland in the final,” Mendonca told FourFourTw­o.

“I’m a Sunderland lad. I was born in London, but I moved to Sunderland when I was two and was brought up there.

"I went to school in Sunderland, I played for Sunderland Boys and Durham County.

"I’d been a Sunderland fan all my life. Every team I played for, the first result I looked for was Sunderland. All of my mates are Sunderland. Everything I know (is Sunderland).”

Mendonca signed for Charlton, then managed by Alan Curbishley, at the start of the 1997/98 season from Grimsby Town, but has admitted things could have turned out very differentl­y.

“Really, I’d wanted to sign for Sunderland,” he said.

“I’d come down to Charlton, spoken to Alan Curbishley and was pretty happy with what he’d said.

“I’d heard that Sunderland wanted to sign me too, so I said to Curbs, ‘I think Sunderland want to sign us, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll sign with you’.

"It didn’t happen so I thought, ‘I’ve got to look after myself – Charlton really want me, so I’ll go there’."

On the play-off final at Wembley, in which Mendonca opened the scoring and completed his hat-trick in extra-time to take the game to penalties, the former striker added: “It was an absolute pleasure to feature in a game like that.

“But I wish I could have done it against any other team in the league. It’s just fate, how it worked out.

“It wasn’t easy. Some people never accept it, but I was simply doing my job the best I could.”

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