DONCASTER Rovers manager Dean Saunders said he was “really proud” of Billy Sharp for the display he produced in an emotionally charged atmosphere at the Keepmoat Stadium last night.
Despite the tragic death of his two-day-old son Louie Jacob Sharp on Saturday, the striker started against Middlesbrough and hit a stunning volley to give the hosts the lead.
There are times when football pales into insignificance and, on an emotional night, Sharp celebrated the strike by lifting up his top to show a T-shirt with a message on it saying: “That one is for you son.” The funeral for his son will be staged today.
Chants of ‘Billy, Billy Sharp’ reverberated around the ground throughout the contest as Boro edged the Championship encounter 3-1 after a double either side of half-time from Scotland international Barry Robson and a close range finish from Marvin Emnes.
Saunders, who saw his attempt to re-sign Jon Parkin on loan rebuffed by Cardiff, said Sharp phoned him on Monday night to say he wanted to play.
“Billy wanted to score a goal for his son and his family,” said Saunders. “He said he was ready to go and when he said that I could not really refuse it.
“He is going to have to learn to live with it. The best thing for him is to train and play games.”
Saunders added: “He will not score a better goal than that. I thought the story had already been written and Billy was going to end up with a hat-trick.
“I am really proud he wanted to play and it tells you a lot about him and it tells you what he thinks about the club.”
The former Wrexham chief said he was pleased with his side’s performance in the opening half an hour but admitted Middlesbrough were the superior team after the break.