Were you to write a list of the most influential figures in our club’s recent history, there is an extremely good chance that Julian Speroni would make it into your top five without hesitation. After more than 11 years and 386 appearances in red and blue, the Argentinian is absolutely synonymous with Crystal Palace FC; as the video below proves in perfect fashion.
This short film on Julian Speroni’s Crystal Palace testimonial against Dundee last summer is an absolutely beautiful tribute to a giant in Crystal Palace’s history. Take a little time to watch it, you won’t regret it.
Having arrived from Dundee with little to no reputation amongst English football fans, the baby-faced keeper was forced to endure a horrible start to life in SE25, thanks to Everton’s wily veteran striker Kevin Campbell. Understandably keen to retain a degree of South American flair in his early days at Selhurst Park, Julian fluffed his lines spectacularly with the ball at his feet, presenting the Toffees frontman with a golden chance to score; it was a moment that kept him out of the team for years and forced him to adjust his entire style.
Fast-forward to the start of the 2007-08 season, and Julian was once again given a starting role in the Palace side, following a prolonged run in the side for Hungarian stopper Gabor Kiraly. The years that followed have brought 365 appearances in between the sticks to go with the 21 he made in the three years prior to his recall. It has, without question, catapulted him into a position of extreme power and respect at Selhurst Park. Universally adored, he is a man who completely justifies the tag of a club “legend”, with a reputation that has forced many within our fan base to call for him to replace Wayne Hennessey in goal for Tottenham’s visit to South London this weekend.
As last summer’s testimonial game proved, Julian’s legacy at Palace will last long after he has hung up his boots, not merely as a consequence of his countless stunning saves or years of service, but as a byproduct of the loyalty he has shown to us when things have looked bleak. Whether pointing towards his heroics in the administration threatened spell of 2010, or his desire to push the club back into the Premier League in the campaigns that followed, he has been an ever-present source of genuine comfort to all of us for far longer than any other player at the club.
The above film, which documents the emotionally charged night when Jules and his Palace teammates welcomed Dundee to Selhurst Park for his testimonial, is a wonderful tribute to a giant in this club’s history. In need of just eight more appearances to become the most appeared goalkeeper in Palace’s 111 year history, we will surely see him reach the milestone before calling time on what has been a simply stunning playing career.
For all of us, Julian defines the spirit and desire that courses through the collective veins of Crystal Palace FC. It’s only right to treasure him.