Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Speroni: The Dundee Years

26 May 2015

Before he became a hero in SE25, Julian Speroni first pitched up in British football back in 2001 when DJ Pied Piper topped the singles charts with "Do You Really Like It?" - and he was soon loving it, loving it, loving it at ambitious Dundee.

The 20-year-old made the move from Buenos Aires club Platense to Dens Park after just two appearances for his hometown club, and his links with Palace began right away.

The man who brought him to Scotland was Ivano Bonetti who had the briefest of stints at Selhurst Park when he made two appearances for the Eagles in 1997. After watching VHS tapes of the youngster in action, he decided it would be worth a shot in bringing the Argentina under-20 international across the Atlantic Ocean.

“Normally what happens with footballers is you tend to play first in your country and then after a while, say a year or two, and then you have a chance to move on to Europe, which is what most South American players want to do,” Speroni recalled. “But in my case it was completely different – I only played two games.

“He [Bonetti] and the goalkeeper coach Claudio Bozzini decided that they liked what they saw, and offered me a contract. They were pretty special circumstances.

“I had a big decision to make as well - it was a big experience leaving home. I had to make a decision, should I play more games there before moving on or take a gamble and come to Europe, and I decided to take a gamble.

"Sometimes I thought I would not be able to play for Dundee because of bureaucratic problems in Argentina. I first came to Dundee in July but I did not sign for them until two and a half months later.

"I had to return to Argentina because it had been left in the hands of agents to sort out, so I had to go and sort it out myself. I qualified for an Italian passport but there were a lot of people in Argentina applying for the same thing and it got held up.

"But Ivano was very patient with me. He told me to go to Argentina and sort it out. He has been very important in my career because he gave me first-team football."

Once everything was agreed, the 20-year-old Speroni arrived in Scotland he settled into a side that boasted a host of foreign players such as former Premier League stars Temuri Ketsbaia and Fabrizio Ravanelli, plus fellow Argentines Beto Carranza, Juan Sara and Fabian Caballero - all of whom will make appearances at his testimonial.

The club's owners were ambitious and invested heavily in the squad to try and break the duopoly of the Old Firm, but could only finish 9th, 6th and 7th in Speroni's three seasons with the Dark Blues.

They did get into the UEFA Cup in 2003/04 but were knocked out in the first round by Perugia, however Speroni became a fans favourite in his 113 games for the club - so much so that nearly 2,000 supporters will make the long journey south to Selhurst Park on Tuesday night.

But back in 2004 with the club struggling to maintain their spending power they were forced into selling their best assets as they plunged into administration.

Speroni was one of these and he arrived at Palace for £750,000 that summer, and at the end of the following season Dundee were relegated from the Scottish Premier League, ending an exciting chapter in their history.

"What a team that could have been," Speroni said. "They were as good as the players I have played with at Palace.

"Jim Duffy [Dundee manager at the time] played a big part in me coming to Palace. I didn’t know England, but I sat down with him and he talked to me about it, and part of my decision was based on what he told me about moving on career- wise.

"Dundee are still special to me. I had such a great time there and learned so much. I played with some really great players and a lot of them became close friends.

"When I was asked who I wanted to play against for my testimonial straight away I said Dundee because they were the ones that gave me a chance when I was a young kid with no experience. That led to the chance to come and play in the Premier League for Palace."

There are still tickets remaining for tonight's game in all areas of the stadium and they will be on sale until kick-off.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets for the match against Dundee.

Advertisement block