Self-belief was the key to Sunderland’s derby victory, according to match-winner Fabio Borini.
The Black Cats went into the game against Newcastle United bottom of the table, with only one point from their opening eight Premier League games this season.
Striker Borini kicked off the game on the substitutes’ bench without a goal for the club, and with only one top-flight strike in 20 appearances. But Sunderland showed resilience and belief lacking from their football this season and were rewarded with Borini’s 84th-minute winner.
“I always believe good things are going to happen to me in a game,” said the former Chelsea and Liverpool forward.
“The main feature of my game is that I am always willing to shoot and to try and I will never give up, even if my team is 4-0 down. I had a feeling the night before the game that something could happen and I told Vito Mannone, my friends and mental coach.
“There is a text on my phone that says I will score the winner in a 2-1 result.
“It will give me a lot of confidence and I hope it does the same for the team. I believe in myself.” In Sunderland’s previous two games, against Manchester United and Swansea City, the Black Cats started well, only for their confidence to visibly ebb once their opponents scored second-half goals.
The pattern threatened to repeat itself at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Sunderland took an early lead through Steven Fletcher’s header, but surrendered it when Mathieu Debuchy was gifted a routine tap-in after 57 minutes.
“We talk about things after every game,” said Borini. “When we have conceded goals in the past we have talked about it. On Sunday it didn’t happen, we didn’t concede any more after the first one and we have to look forward now to the next game.
“We showed that we never give up, unlike in the previous matches. We conceded a goal but kept on going.
“That’s where my goal came from because we keep defended really well, came out well, my first touch was a good one and the second was even better. As soon as I hit the ball I knew it was going in the top corner.”
Borini was signed before current coach Gustavo Poyet’s arrival, and is yet to convince as a Premier League striker. But one swing of his boot has raised his standing on Wearside.
“The manager (changing) does not affect your feelings,” he insisted. “You are the person you are and the manager who you have, it doesn’t matter, because you have a job to do.
“I have had so many changed moments in the past already, so many different teams and different managers.
“It’s good to now be a part of the history of Sunderland. It’s a very proud moment for me.
“I scored in the Rome derby last year and this was a similar feeling. In Rome they make a statue of the players that score in the derby, even if you lose (as was the case with Borini in 2012). Maybe they will build a statue of me for scoring the winner in a derby!
“I knew it was a big game and probably the best derby in England. We’re very fortunate as the atmosphere is so special. The day of the game is unbelievable.
“It is not about one goal in a game, the difference will come every day in training. The manager then has more time to look at us and pick the team for the weekend.
“I wanted to do so many things in my celebration because it is a long time since I have scored but I ended up doing nothing. I slid on my knees, saw the fans coming onto the pitch and that is definitely the best feeling in the world, when the supporters are running towards you and you celebrate together.”