Sunderland derby hero Fabio Borini: Why I laughed at Newcastle keeper Tim Krul

Fabio Borini
Fabio Borini
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Sitting snugly on the sofa on Merseyside, two former Sunderland players exploded into ecstasy when Jermain Defoe stroked the ball into the top corner to win the Wear-Tyne derby.

“I watched the game where Defoe scored, it was good. I celebrated with Jordan Henderson, me and him next to each other!” says a smiling Fabio Borini when asked about the last of Sunderland’s five successive wins over Newcastle United.

Six months on, Borini is looking to retake the crown as Sunderland’s derby hero.

The Italian cemented his position in Wearside folklore two years ago when he sealed victory over the Magpies with a goal which was just as spectacular as Defoe’s.

It was a strike which announced Borini’s place on the stage in what was to be Gus Poyet’s fairy-tale escape from the drop after the then Liverpool striker was just two months into his Sunderland career.

He jokingly suggests that he’s watched the footage of that goal “two million times” since.

As a combination of emotions, it was better the first time

Fabio Borini

But Borini then cemented that mantle by netting the opener in Sunderland’s second successive 3-0 win at St James’s Park, as the Black Cats did the derby double for the first time since 1966-67.

It takes Borini a good 10 seconds of silent reflection before he can answer which of those two magic moments was better.

Eventually, he decides: “The first one was probably more important because we didn’t win a game until then, we only had one point.

“I wasn’t playing so I came off the bench and scored the winner. That makes it even better.

“The second one was important, but we weren’t so desperate to win. It was a 3-0 and to win away in their stadium was good.

“But, as a combination of emotions, it was better the first time.

“The goals count for one though – if you score an overhead kick or a penalty it’s only valued as one.”

Borini scored four high-stakes penalties during that season-long loan at the Stadium of Light, yet that was a particularly pressurised one in front of the Leazes End.

Rather than being overwhelmed by the situation though, Borini relished it; laughing at Newcastle keeper Tim Krul before effortlessly converting and celebrating in trademark style on the billboards towards the delirious Sunderland fans up in the Gods.

“The keeper tried to put me off. He said he was in my head, but I just laughed, because I knew he wasn’t,” he said.

“The penalties are something that I practise, they don’t just come from anywhere.

“I practice in training with the keepers to find a way to score all the time.

“It seems simple but it is not.

“When you have these types of games the pressure is different.”

Borini returned to Liverpool’s squad last season, yet was merely a spectator in the stands for the two Merseyside derbies against Everton.

But he feels that local tussle does not compare to the ferocity of the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle.

He likens the clash between the North East’s tribes to the Rome derby, albeit without the dangerously violent clashes which can occur between Roma and Lazio supporters.

“I think it’s a lot better (than Merseyside)” said the 24-year-old.

“In Liverpool, the two clubs are kind of friends as a club because they help each other out and they were brought together by the tragedy of Hillsborough.

“I know people who are in the same family who support Everton and Liverpool, which doesn’t happen here.

“If you support Sunderland you support Sunderland, if you support Newcastle you support Newcastle.

“It’s a totally different atmosphere. Here, it’s a lot louder!

“In Rome you can’t go out in the week before, you can’t stop and talk to fans because you know you’re going to get into a dangerous situation.

“Here, that doesn’t happen, but you’re still focusing and you take the game as a different game.

“That’s why in these games there is more energy and more passion because you get that feeling inside from the fans that just gets to you.”