Champions League: Academy products set for European finals

Two Sunderland academy graduates will feature on club football’s biggest stage this week, as they battle for UEFA Champions League glory.

Following in the footsteps of Emlyn Hughes, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson will captain Liverpool in a European Cup final as the Reds take on reigning two-time winners Real Madrid in Kiev. 

But the former Sunderland midfielder isn’t the only academy product gunning for European glory, with Lyon’s Lucy Bronze set to face Wolfsburg in the Women's Champions League final on Thursday evening.

Born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Bronze joined SAFC Ladies at under-12 level before breaking into the club’s first team at the age of 16.

The defender was named manager's Player of the Year as the Lasses finished third in the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division in 2007-08, and the following season she helped the club earn promotion to the National Division.

And she also picked up the Player of the Match award in Sunderland's 2–1 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal in 2009.

In 2010, Bronze joined Everton before moving to Liverpool and winning the FA WSL in 2013 and 2014, during which time she also won the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year award and became an England international.

A third title followed in 2016 during a three-year spell with Manchester City, as she added the 2016 WSL Cup and the 2016-17 FA Women’s Cup to her trophy cabinet. 

Bronze, who was named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year on Tuesday, moved to reigning European champions Lyon in August 2017, and she will battle for that very prize on Thursday against German outfit Wolfsburg after scoring the winner in the semi-finals.

Like Henderson, Bronze's journey started at the Academy of Light and all roads now lead to Kiev.

Both will be hoping it becomes a place where Wearside dreams come true.

Best of luck, Lucy and Jordan!

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