April 5 2012
Daniel Gibbs salutes Crystal Palace's own 'Manos de Dios' - Julian Speroni.
There was an unfamiliar face that signed from Dundee in the summer of 2004. Perhaps a bit of anticipation over the fact Julian Speroni was Argentinian, but nobody really knew who he was.
Ask any follower of the Championship in 2012, who the best goalkeeper is and youíll regularly hear his name spring up.
Itís not hard to believe that ĎJulesí, as nicknamed by the fans, has received Player of the Year a record three seasons in a row. A quite incredible feat for any player, but for a goalkeeper thatís quite astonishing.
Itís clear that he is adored by the Palace fansí, receiving a standing ovation every time he hangs his grey towel to the net of the goal at the Holmesdale End prior to each kick-off, before the quite catchy tune of Julianís song erupts around the ground.
Youíll often hear his song throughout the match when prompted to after one of his near impossible saves. I donít consider there being a better shot stopper in the Championship.
His natural stopping ability stands him out from the crowd, along with his catching ability from all types of crosses, his bravery in one on ones and fantastic distribution of the ball.
Without Speroni, thereís no doubt our goal difference would be a lot worse. Our defence is strong but knowing that we have Jules in goal should the opposition break through the back four it puts fans minds at ease, and also boosts the confidence of the defenders.
A lot of admiration goes out to Speroni from me, knowing he could quite easily be on Match of the Day each Saturday night impressing Hansen and Shearer but he chooses to stick with us.
His heart is set in the club and itís positive to know heís still under contract for at least another year, fingers crossed heíll sign a new contract soon.
It was great to see the respect the fans and Speroni showed one another after Speroni made his 250th appearance for the club.
Julian was seen to be emotional, wiping away his tears on that grey towel of his as fans applauded him and displayed a banner with ĎManos de Diosí meaning ĎHands of Godí as well as a blown up photo of the keeper.
Heís already got a restaurant named after him at the club. What next? A stand? A plaque? Or a statue in the car park? Who knows?
As long as he stays at this club for a long, long time I donít really mind.
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