Sunderland striker Fabio Borini has amped up the pressure and intensity ahead of this weekend's Tyne-Wear clash by telling the club's website that the rivalry with Newcastle is the only derby in England which matches that of Rome.
The Italian spent a season at Roma in 2011-12, and scored an equaliser for the Giallorossi in the club's derby match against Lazio in his time at the Stadio Olimpico.
The 24-year-old has also played for Chelsea, Swansea City, and Liverpool in the UK before moving to Wearside on a permanent deal last summer.
Borini, who scored the winner against Newcastle at the Stadium of Light in 2013-14 whilst on loan at Sunderland and also netted in the 3-0 victory at St. James' Park the same season, says that no rivalry he has experienced in British football matches that of the one between the Black Cats and the Magpies.
Borini told the Sunderland website: "I’m much looking forward to playing at St James’ Park; I’ve always said it’s one of my favourite stadiums because I have great memories there and because of the way the derby is here.
"It’s the closest derby to the Rome derby. I still haven’t seen one quite like that because for the month ahead of the game the city explodes and you can’t go out for weeks, but this derby is the best in England the closest to that kind of passion."
This weekend's derby between the two sides perhaps has more riding on it than any other in recent years, with both clubs in serious danger of relegation to the Championship.
Sunderland are currently outside the bottom three only on goal difference, but can open up a four-point gap between themselves and Newcastle with victory at the home of their rivals.