HE was responsible for one of the most memorable moments in Sheffield United’s recent history.
But tonight Paul Peschisolido, whose manic celebrations after scoring a crucial goal in the 2003 play-off semi-final with Nottingham Forest remain the stuff of legend at Bramall Lane, now finds himself in the unenviable position of trying to deny them another chance to enjoy life under the footballing spotlight.
Peschisolido, whose Burton Albion side entertain his former employers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tonight, said: “When it was announced who we’d be facing I was absolutely buzzing. I couldn’t have wished for a better draw.
“Everyone knows how much I think of United and the people of Sheffield.
“I scored a goal against them when I went back with Derby and didn’t celebrate out of respect.
“That just wouldn’t have been right.
“I had a brilliant time there and I’m not being dramatic by admitting that club is always going to be a part of me.
“I’ve got some wonderful memories of being there. They were great times.”
Peschisolido took charge at the Pirelli Stadium only 72 hours after calling time on his 20-year playing career.
Having consolidated Albion’s League Two status last season, he is excited by the prospect of making further progress this term.
“I love everything about being a manager and, do you know what, I actually feel really privileged to have been asked,” Peschisolido continued. “Especially because, when I first came in I didn’t really have any coaching experience.
“There are great people at Burton though and I’m fortunate to have a chairman who doesn’t interfere but is really supportive.
“It’s a 24/7 job but that’s one of the things that really excites me.
“When you are a footballer your brain can turn to mush because everything is taken care of for you.
“You’re told what to wear, when to be somewhere and even what to eat. When you turn up for training everything is organised in terms of drills and routines.
“Now I’ve got to worry about doing all of that for other people and also trying to take care of myself.
“The best thing, the bit of the job that I possibly get the most out of, is pitting my wits against other teams.
Having scored 21 times in United colours, Peschisolido is guaranteed a warm reception from the travelling support.
“I think people took to me because I always tried to give my all,” he said.
“Getting a few goals helped, including ‘that’ one, but I tried to put everything in.
“That’s one of the things I instil in my players now.
“Even if you’re having a stinker, your touch is all over the place, you couldn’t trap a bag of cement and nothing is going right, just put everything in and chase every loose ball.
“That’s what fans want to see because we’re very lucky to be involved in this business.”
Signed by Neil Warnock after initially joining on loan from Fulham,
Peschisolido, who also represented Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, spent nearly three seasons in South Yorkshire before departing for Pride Park.
As well as putting Forest to the sword on that memorable May evening, he was also a member of the squad which reached the semi-finals of both the League and FA cups.
“Leaving United was a tough decision to make,” he recalled.“I was fortunate to go to a great club like Derby but I can remember thinking I felt like I was leaving a family behind and that’s ex
actly what we were. I had a really
good time with The Chief (Wayne Allison) and one of the things that is still really vivid in my mind is how the excitement levels went up if we were trailing and we got asked to
“The pair of us made a bit of a speciality out of coming on and trying to help change things and so, in the end, people used to expect it of us.
“We got a buzz out of that too.
“The gaffer made sure there was a really great atmosphere around the place. Neil was a big influence on me. Don’t get me wrong - we used to have our run-ins, but he’s superb at what he does and the atmosphere behind the scenes back then was absolutely second to none.
“I’ve picked up things from him and also some of the other good manager’s I had. And the bad ones too.
“Sometimes, in this business, the things you don’t do are as important as the things you do.”
Albion were beaten 2-1 by Accrington Stanley on Saturday while Danny Wilson’s side triumphed 1-0 at Yeovil Town.
That defeat by John Coleman’s men saw Albion’s best ever unbeaten run as a Football League club - 10 games, including six at the end of last season - come to a halt.
Billy Kee, the Northern Ireland under-21 international, made his debut for Albion as a second-half substitute after arriving from Torquay.
Despite restoring the visitors’ Championship status being his most pressing concern, Wilson insisted he wants to “go as far as possible” in this much-maligned tournament.