#SperoniWeek - How Julian Speroni went from zero to hero at Crystal Palace

Written by Jim Daly

Speroni Week is in full swing here at FYP and today Jim Daly looks at how the great man went from the most disastrous of starts at Palace to become of the club's best ever players.

The words 'legend' or 'great' are often saved for players that have left clubs or retired but we have a Palace great playing for the squad right now in the shape of Julian Speroni. 

(It's Julian Speroni by the way, and not some sort of Speroni cardboard cut out)

Jules has played more than 300 games for the club, won Player of the Year and record three times in a row and been there through the hard times and the good.

But his stay at Selhurst could have been much, much shorter and more insignificant considering the beginning of his Palace career. Which, in reality, was nothing short of disastrous.

It had all started rather smoothly though in the summer of 2004; Speroni arrived from Dundee with a big reputation - albeit in Scotland - and looked solid in a pre-season at QPR and his first league game at Norwich.

But it all turned to shit in Palace's first home game of the season against Everton. Palace were leading when he received a back pass and Jules - making his first appearance at Selhurst - took a very heavy touch and Kevin Campbell capitalised. Embarrassed, he suffered a rush of blood  to the head hauled down Campbell and Thomas Graverson converted the penalty.

Weirdly Jules wasn't booked, but Everton were revitalised and ran out 3-1 winners. Speroni played a few more games but another mistake at Pompey where he left a tame Patrick Berger shot go in saw him dropped for Gabor Kiraly and he didn't regain the No.1 spot for another THREE YEARS.

For many players that would be it, especially after having tasted Premier League football, but Jules didn't force a move -  he patiently waited for his chance.

This is an example of the sort of maturity that has exemplified Jules' time at Palace - although at the time he was a hungry 25-year-old. 

Football is an unforgiving environment and fans rarely forget indiscretions - many players often never recover.

It was the same for Speroni, who had to fight off fan's doubts when he finally got his first team chance against in 2007. And with some justification, although being a good shot stopper he was still dodgy on crosses, a poor kicker and had a knack for throwing away a good performance with one silly mistake.

But Jules took it all in his stride, and as a result has become one of Palace's best ever players. plenty of other, more talented individuals, can learn a lot from that.

Palace aren't the most glamourous or successful of teams, but Speroni has proven that dignity and loyalty can have a place in the game. He didn't care that we have been shit for 80 percent of his time here, being No.1, working his way back into the team, and keeping it was more important than anything to him.

You get the feeling he'd be exactly the same were we just a Sunday League team.

I guess you can put it down to the fact he is a level-headed, homely type of guy. A regular friendly face at his local church in Oxted and a big family man, Jules is only ever in the headlines for his on-the-pitch activities and not off the field antics.

To be honest, anyone with those sort of qualities will do well in life whatever they do. It just do happens for Speroni it's being one of Palace's greatest ever keepers.

Football fans have long memories when it comes to faults but they also remember loyalty. And Speroni's determination to overcome those early fuck ups and be a Palace great have been recognised by the Eagles faithful. See the brilliant Holmesdale 'Manos de Dios' display when Jules passed his 250th display recently.

Jules has been a hero far longer than he's been a zero but he's had to work hard at it and now - in his mid 30s - is he quite rightly reaping the rewards. 

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