Davide Santon is hoping to maintain his unbeaten derby record tomorrow – as he insists the passion of the game will inspire rather than scare him.
The Italy defender has drawn both of his Tyne-Wear games and was never on the losing side for Inter in their clashes with Milan. Those are big games, but he says they are nothing compared to the blood and thunder of a Tyne-Wear clash.
“The atmosphere (last time) was brilliant, we drew 1-1 and it was amazing when Cabaye scored right at the start. The Sunderland fans had been quite noisy before that but when the goal went in nobody spoke. All you could hear was the Newcastle fans right up at the top. It was fantastic listening to it.
“Hopefully we will be able to hear that again on Sunday and with a little bit more luck we will win the game. We were so unlucky last time with the own goal from Demba Ba and hopefully we will win this time.
“It wasn’t scary. It was full of passion. It wasn’t something that made you scared as the passion inspired you. It made you feel like you didn’t want to just play for 90 minutes but 180 minutes.”
His unbeaten record is something he is fiercely proud of, and he admits it is crucial that the team don’t lose.
“I have played in three Milan derbies. The Milan derby is good and an exciting experience, but I think this derby is even bigger. The lay-out of the stadiums makes a big difference.
“At Sunderland everyone will be very close to the pitch and that means you can hear the fans really loudly. At the San Siro you have 90,000 people watching you but they are a long way from the field so you can’t hear them and the atmosphere doesn’t seem as crazy.
“You also share the same stadium so it never really feels like you are playing away. It’s a different experience and I definitely prefer this derby because you are more on edge.
“This game also means more to the fans of the two clubs. The game is so important to them. At Inter, yes the derby is important, but it doesn’t dominate the rest of the season. Here, this game does.
“I won all three of the Milan derbies I played in. It’s funny because when I was growing up I was an AC Milan fan. It was difficult for me at first to join Inter, but once you join a team you give everything for them.
“I won all three of my Milan derbies and even though I haven’t won one here at Newcastle, I haven’t lost one either. Both games I have been in finished 1-1.
“I hope my record of not losing a derby continues.”