This season hasn’t been plain sailing for the Black Cats, who started the season under the management of Lee Johnson before he was relieved of his duties in February and replaced by Alex Neil.
Alex Pritchard played brilliantly at Wembley and was causing the Chairboys constant problems.
The 29-year-old was one of Johnson’s signings at the start of the season and, despite the manager no longer being at the club, Pritchard was keen to give him as much credit as his current manager.
When asked if he had any doubts when signing for Sunderland, he told the Chronicle: “No, not really. I give a lot of credit to Lee Johnson. I spoke to him and he knew my situation and my love of football probably wasn’t there. He rang me and said I need to make you love football again.
“I remember the words he said. If you love football again, I’ve no doubts. If you don’t love football, I don’t know what will happen.
“To be fair to him, I’ve got that fire in my belly again and obviously things happen in the season – he went – and Alex Neil has come in. I’ve been under Alex Neil. I know what he’s about.
“It’s all about working hard and he’ll give you the freedom up the top of the pitch, we’ve got the quality up there. The problem was conceding goals and we’ve stopped doing that and now we can see why.
“The togetherness is unbelievable. We’ve had some bad moments this year but we keep coming back. We keep coming back and the fans deserve it.”
Quiz: Can you name which club Sunderland sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
Reflecting in Sunderland’s promotion, he said: “I think it’s my first promotion so for me I’ve played in the leagues above I’ve played in League One when I was 19-years-old, I didn’t want to play in League One.
“When I first came to the club I told a lot of people close to me, I don’t want to be in this league. I’ve come here and I’ve given absolutely everything. I’ve played through.
“It’s just unbelievable to do it. I’m really buzzing because it’s my first year here and we’ve done it. This team has done it. People like Lynden Gooch who have been here for years.
“For us to do it for players that have been here a long time, they’ve had so much hurt and now it’s time to enjoy it. But, we can go again next year.”
Pritchard has had a great season with Sunderland and it’s clear to see he has regained that love for football whilst being at the club, which he credits both of his managers this season for.
There’s no doubting that Sunderland have done brilliantly since Alex Neil came into the club but Pritchard also highlights the effect Lee Johnson has had on the team this season – even if he wasn’t able to take them all the way, he definitely deserves some credit for their achievements this year.
The 29-year-old will now be looking to go and push on with his side in the Championship, hoping he can retain that love for football and prove his ability in the league above.