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Cuellar understands the derby importance
HE has played in arguably the biggest derby in the world, so Carlos Cuellar needs little help understanding what is at stake when Sunderland and Newcastle meet at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Cuellar spent a season in the Scottish Premier League with Rangers, playing in three Old Firm derbies against Celtic with a record of two wins, one defeat and one red card.
He is likely to get his first taste of Wear-Tyne derby action and having also experienced Midlands derbies, Cueller insists he understands exactly what the game means to supporters.
"Friends and fans have been sending me messages this week, the fans are telling me 'we don't care about the other games this season, as long as we win these two, nothing else matters'. The players are very aware of our responsibilities in this game," Cuellar said.
"You come from abroad and everyone says it's a big game, and you say 'okay it's a big game' but it's more than that. You live the atmosphere and you feel how the people feel, how important it is for all of them."
As well as spells at Celtic and Aston Villa, Cueller grew up supporting Real Madrid and remembers watching several El Classicos.
There are often arguments over which derby is the biggest and Cuellar is lucky to have experienced one of the most passionate rival atmospheres at the Old Firm, although he hopes Sunday's game against Newcastle doesn't end the same way his last Old Firm did, when he was dismissed for handball.
He said: "They were amazing, some of the best games I ever played in my life, frantic.
"I was sent-off in one of them, my last one. I hope to stay on this time. It was a good save! I like the feeling and the intensity. I love the sensation. We won the two home games and lost one away, one when I made that good save.
"The fans are telling me that this is the biggest one of all. I know that's normal here. This is the biggest one for me as well because it's the one I'm playing in."
Last season's Wear-Tyne derby proved significant for both Sunderland and Newcastle in different ways. The Magpies went on to finish fifth and qualify for Europe, while the Black Cats struggled with Steve Bruce being sacked in December.
Cuellar is well aware the result of Sunday's game could shape both team's seasons and said: "Those who were here last season have told me about it and how important it was.
"A win like this can do so much for your confidence, because if we beat them we'll feel so happy after the game and for weeks after.
"If you lose you feel the pressure straight away. Some players can and some players can't play with that kind of pressure.
"Some people think if you lose this game it's the end of the world.
"It's not, it just feels like it. You have to prepare for both but it's easy if you win because the confidence is higher."
If he starts, Cuellar is likely to come up against Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, but the defender insists he doesn't fear the prospect of keeping the pair at bay.
"They're good strikers, I like them, it wouldn't bother me if I had to play against Ronaldo and Messi. You want to come up against the best players and we're not scared of anyone."
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