Phil Bardlsey has spoken of the difficulties of facing the team he supports whilst wearing the shirt of Sunderland.

“You just have to leave the scarf on the sidelines for 90 minutes,” he said. “It could be tough, but I have to look after myself and what’s best for Sunderland FC.”

Bardsley also talked about his life growing up as a red.

“I lived on Littleton Road, which was right next door to the training ground,” said Bardsley. “In the summer holidays, I would spend all my time standing outside trying to get autographs. I don’t think you can watch training now, but at that time they were training just over the way so I could see who I wanted to. When I was in primary school, Schmeichel and Cantona were the big stars, while the Beckhams and Scholes were just coming through. It was amazing just to stand and watch them play. I still go to an odd game now, and if I wasn’t playing, I would go with my mates to the away games, have a laugh, that sort of thing. I went to the Rangers match with my mates and sat in the stands. Some of my mates follow United everywhere, there’s one of them, from Salford, who spends all of his wages following the club, never goes out boozing or anything like that. All the lads prefer the away games, maybe getting away from the missus for a few hours and having a bit of a gargle. It’s not a bad way of spending a Saturday afternoon is it, watching United?”