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Layla Anna-Lee

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I look right…and there’s Speroni. 

Legendary long-time goal keeper for Crystal Palace. I can’t help but stare, and I probably allowed myself to stare a touch longer than would normally be acceptable based on the fact that I assumed he’s probably used to people staring. It’s so rude, but when your gaze catches someone as exciting as Speroni a million thoughts fly through your mind. No matter who you see, starstuck awe tends to follow the same cognitive route. Firstly, WOW OMG, is that him?! Despite being undoubtedly in the presence of Speroni you question the moment and you question Speroni. 

You know exactly what he looks like and you’re knowledgeable enough to pick him out of a lookalike line up but you will still do the obligatory Google.
It’s definitely Speroni.

The following thought is purely observational as you admire his beard as being as perfect as it appears on the television. As your gaze begins to widen there’s a tinge of disappointment. The fantasy of the super human we put on an imaginary pedestal begins to break. You see Speroni in the real life environment. He’s sat in his car on his phone – like a real, normal human being. For a brief moment you wish you hadn’t seen Speroni as the view of him in his Palace kit and gloves framed by white steel and facing eleven Premier League men is always more thrilling than the local Waitrose car park. That momentary depression fades as your excitement returns and you place yourself into the remarkable situation. I’m 3ft from Speroni.

You attempt to break your gaze, now aware that you’re staring and feeling a sense of divine guilt. A guilt that you then place on Speroni. It’s his fault I’m staring – he’s Speroni. Seconds have passed but it feels like minutes, you decide you must now make your move…and you go into the supermarket. As you stroll in regretting your decision and trying really hard not to look back you spot a beautiful, slightly exotic looking woman holding the hand of her young son who’s in full palace kit, the name on the shirt? Speroni. You have now created a fictional family and keep an eye out for what food ‘Mrs Speroni’ is purchasing. You’re not being obsessive yet – you genuinely want to eat like an athlete. And then it happens, Speroni walks in. Like you, he has gotten out of his car and come into the supermarket. The whole sequence begins again.

You wonder for a second whether you should say hello, apologise or ask for a photo but you want none of these things really. You just want to stare at Speroni, and the fruit. You toy with the idea of throwing a bag of pasta at him. You don’t. And It’s best that you didn’t. Of course he would have caught it! You say nothing as he weaves through the aisles and you realise you haven’t moved. Dotted around you there are at least another four people frozen by the same sensation. Stood perfectly still, shopping basket in hand, staring at Speroni.

It all ends with deep sense of satisfaction, you feel as if you’ve achieved something amazing and return home feeling like a million dollars. Simply for staring at Speroni.


Layla Seproni blog (pic 2)

This article was originally written in Layla’s column in the Crystal Palace official programme. You can read her regular column on match days or via the Palace app. Download it here: