Crystal Palace legend Julian Speroni is swapping goalie gloves for oven gloves after opening a new restaurant in Purley.
The 34-year-old keeper opened the aptly named Speroni on Russell Hill Road at the end of last year and it is already shaping up to be a success –as well as a lucky charm for the team.
Palace have done pretty well since the restaurant opened – and many of the first team squad who have visited have had a bit of good luck.
Speroni, in his tenth season at the club, said: “Paddy came down to eat here and then not long after he was back in the team.
"Wilbraham came as well and scored after so we were talking about how they need to come back here more often.
“The gaffer has not come yet but some of the staff have been here as well and they have given good feedback. My teammates have been congratulating me about it so that is good.”
He opened the restaurant with fellow Argentinian Cristian Barrionuevo who also owns the Buenos Aires steak house next door.
The restaurant serves food with an Argentinian, Spanish and Italian twist along with an impressive wine list featuring wines from Argentina.
Julian Speroni in his new restuarant
It is a new project for Speroni who has been through thick and thin with the Eagles.
He joined the club from Dundee in 2004 when Palace were last in the Premier League and since then has experienced relegation from the top flight, play-off heartache, mid-table mediocrity, administration and promotion.
Not to mention the eight managers he has played under which he counted whilst tucking in to a Chicken Speroni.
The Argentinian, also a keen drummer and guitarist, finally felt this was a period of stability at the club and thought the time was right to start his new venture.
He said: “It has been on my mind for a long time. When I was told this place was available and I came and had a look at it I knew it was the perfect place for me to start.
“We have got a fantastic team here and some experienced staff. I knew that if I am putting my name on this then the food, service everything has to be good. Otherwise there is no point doing it.
“There has been a lot of interest and a lot of fans have come along. We haven’t given it much publicity yet as we wanted to make sure it was perfect but the feedback already has been great.”
But there is only one person who Speroni wanted a positive reaction from, his mum Naomi, who even helped create one of the dishes.
He said: “The family have come a few times. They came after the Stoke game and it was full so that was great. My mum loved it and if she likes it then that means it will be good.
“We have a chicken dish which is my mum’s recipe as well. My mum told our head chef how she made it and it has turned out well.
“My background is Italian. I remember going to my grandma’s house and sitting round the table eating what she cooked and it was amazing.
“I want people to come to this restaurant and feel like I did when I went round to my grandma’s on a Sunday.”
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