Yann M'Vila played for Inter Milan against rivals AC, but says not even that could match the passion at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland midfielder Yann M'Vila has claimed that not even the notorious Milan derby can match clashes between the Black Cats and arch-rivals Newcastle United for passion and intensity, as quoted by the Daily Star.
The two North East clubs face off at St. James' Park on Sunday in a meeting which will take on the added significance and tension of a relegation six-pointer as well as a grudge match.
M'Vila, who made a late substitute appearance against AC Milan at the San Siro whilst on loan at city rivals Inter from Rubin Kazan last season, played the full 90 minutes as the Black Cats beat the Magpies 3-0 at the Stadium of Light in October.
The 25-year-old claimed that the atmosphere and passion he witnessed during that match was like nothing he had ever experienced before, including in the famously-fiery Milan derby.
The Daily Star quotes M'Vila as saying: "It was a unique, special atmosphere. I have played for Inter in the derby and it was great but not quite to that level.
"Here, you make a good tackle and you are applauded almost as if you have scored a goal. It’s fantastic. The fans give you wings to fly. It’s almost like playing a game on the street.
"I love these high pressure, high octane games even when opposition fans boo, it is something that really motivates me."
Sunday's clash is a pivotal fixture in the race to avoid relegation with both teams mired in serious danger with only two months of the season remaining.
With it looking as though any two of Sunderland, Newcastle, and Norwich City will be joining doomed Aston Villa in the Championship next season, the Black Cats currently have the slight advantage, sitting outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
They will be confident heading to the home of their rivals as they boast a fine run of form in the derby in recent years, having won the last six in a row and going unbeaten in eight since 2011.