Crystal Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni wants the Selhurst Park faithful to get behind the Eagles when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend.
The Argentinean shot-stopper is adamant that the rivalry between the two sides will not affect the team’s preparations, but the atmosphere created by the fans is so special it can push them on to success.
Speroni, who featured in the Dundee derby games in Scotland during his 92 appearances for the club, has been an ever present so far this season and has witnessed from a unique perspective the team’s meteoritic rise to the Championship summit.
However, after the 2-1 defeat at Leeds United on Saturday, Speroni says so the Championship is so tough, any team is capable of beating any other team, and that’s why the team need the fans’ backing.
“It doesn’t matter what game it is, we will always prepare in the same way. You have too, otherwise you lose your way and your discipline,” he said.
“Once we get to the ground on Saturday, we’ll pick up on the atmosphere and the fans’ excitement but we need to be professional.
“It is all about the fans, they are the ones talking about bragging rights and beating rivals, and they can help us help them by creating a special atmosphere.
“That’s what they have done recently, and it has made a huge difference to us.”
He added: “Derbies are funny things, anyone outside of Palace and Brighton probably doesn’t get the significance, in the same way as anyone outside of Dundee doesn’t get the significance of their derby games.
“But we know it is important to the fans and we will be going all out to win it.”
Speroni hopes that Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at Hull City will kick-start another unbeaten run after the Leeds defeat brought at an end 14 games unbeaten.
He said: “The unbeaten run had to end at some point, we were becoming the team that everyone wanted to beat, they wanted to be the team that ended the run.
“Maybe the Leeds defeat takes a little pressure off us, but we would have preferred to keep the run going for as long as possible.
“Being unbeaten gives us confidence, and I know we have the confidence to start it again.”
From his position between the sticks, the 33-year-old Speroni has witnessed the change in the team’s fortunes – and he knows the reason behind it.
“We brought in a few players and they really bought into what the club, under Dougie then, wanted to do, and they bought into it very quickly.
“I am lucky to be able to watch the likes of Wilf and Yannick develop and the new guys have really brought the young lads’ game on too.”
He added: “The whole team quickly learnt to work as one, which is the reason for our success.”