IT is an image that has haunted Sunderland supporters for more than two decades – Clive Mendonca, firing pretend guns into the sky, after scoring from the penalty spot in the 1998 First Division play-off final.

The former Charlton Athletic striker, who was a boyhood Sunderland fan after being born and raised on Wearside, has kept his counsel about his role in one of the most famous play-off matches in history for the best part of 20 years.

But with Sunderland and Charlton renewing rivalries at Wembley tomorrow afternoon, the Nissan factory worker has admitted he regrets acting so provocatively in front of his fellow Black Cats.

“There’s plenty of pictures of me down at the training ground at Charlton with the guns out,” said Mendonca. “To be fair, it’s the one thing I regret.

“Being a Sunderland fan, I shouldn’t have done that, but it was all just emotion on the day. I apologise to the Sunderland fans. I’m sorry for doing that. It’s took 20 years, but I’m one of you – remember that.”

Mendonca scored a hat-trick as Charlton came from behind on three separate occasions to force a 4-4 draw after extra-time, but the Wearsider’s abiding memory from two decades ago is of his walk to the penalty spot during the shoot-out.

Mendonca took the very first penalty in the shoot-out, with his success sparking a run of 13 successive goals before Michael Gray’s miss proved crucial.

“I got the ball on the halfway line, and I’m walking towards the Sunderland fans,” said Mendonca, in an interview with Sky Sports. “The noise – I’ll never, ever forget that – the noise was deafening. They gave us some stick for that (the celebration) mind – and for the penalty.

“The first one to come up to me was Peter Reid,” he said. “I was dying to say, ‘You should’ve signed me’, but I didn’t.

“He came up, shook my hand, and he was brilliant. It was really nice of him.”