Gaby Zakuani is hoping for a happy homecoming tomorrow (October 18), one that involves a good reception from Peterborough United fans and three points for fierce rivals Northampton Town.
The two are probably incompatible, but the centre-back has always been an optimist.
Tomorrow will be Zakuani’s first return to the ABAX Stadium since his summer move across the murky divide to Sixfields following over 250 appearances and two promotions with Posh.
He’s excited about returning, but he’s also deadly serious about upsetting fans who worshipped him during two League One promotion campaigns.
“Of course I’m excited,” Zakuani stated ahead of the eagerly-anticipated first derby clash since 2009. “It was obviously the first fixture I looked for.
“Posh are a club close to my heart. You can’t experience what I experienced there, all the highs and lows, and not have a lot of affection for the place.
“It will be strange going to the away dressing room, but I can’t wait to meet old friends before the match starts.
“I’m not sure what to expect from the Posh fans. I just hope they remember the commitment I gave on the field and the service to the communtity I offered off it. They should know I hold their club in the highest regard.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to move to Northampton after Posh let me go as I had to look after myself and my family and they made me a good offer. I honestly thought Cambridge were Posh’s biggest rivals!
“There were a few Northampton die-hards who didn’t take to me straight away because of where I had come from. There was a bit of banter, but they saw what I was all about in the first five matches and they’ve been so good lately they’ve started singing the song about the the Posh fans used to sing.
“It should be a good game. We’ve taken to League One really well. We’d settle for being where we are after a quarter of the season. League One hasn’t really taken shape yet which is unusual for this stage of the season, but both clubs could be challengers in May.
“Our manager has built a really experienced side. We were very resilient at the start of the season and when we started scoring goals we moved quickly up the table.
“It looks like we will be facing Shaquile Coulthirst and Tom Nichols and I’ve seen enough of them both in training and in matches to know how good they are.
“Shaq is very quick and aggressive, while Tom seems to get on the end of everything that comes into the penalty area. I’ll be giving our defenders a few tips on how to deal with them though.
“We know we are in for a tough game. By all accounts Posh have played a lot better than their recent results suggested.
“It’s going to be a great night and our club and the fans are really up for it. The atmosphere should be right up there with the best nights I’ve experienced at the ABAX.”
Zakuani didn’t play in Saturday’s (October 15) 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Millwall after returning from international duty with DR Congo. Hde now skippers his country.
Zakuanis is expected to start tomorrow’s game.
Another former Posh player, midfielder Harry Beautyman started against the Lions, but was substituted at half-time.