Paul Peschisolido’s role in Derby County’s 2006/07 promotion-winning campaign under Billy Davies is an interesting one.
The Canadian-born striker’s role on the pitch during the campaign was one where he found himself, more often than not, on the periphery.
In fact, prior to Derby’s Championship Play-Off Final against West Bromwich Albion in May 2007, he had made just 13 league appearances, 17 in total, over the campaign.
The form of the likes of Steve Howard, Giles Barnes and Arturo Lupoli meant he was very much on the fringes of the side.
He still contributed, of course, and netted four goals in all competitions, including a last-minute leveller against Southampton on the opening day of the season.
It was, though, a big surprise that he found himself in the Rams’ starting line-up at Wembley Stadium just under 13 years ago.
He hadn’t featured in the matchday squad for five of Derby’s last six league games of the season, playing only against Leeds United on the final day of the season with a play-off spot already secured.
Peschisolido wasn’t even in the squad for either of the Rams’ Semi-Final clashes against Southampton as Davies’ side reached the Final following a penalty shoot-out success at Pride Park Stadium.
But, when the big day came around, on Monday 28th May 2007, his invaluable experience was just what Davies wanted alongside Howard up top.
Peschisolido played 58 minutes, spurning a good chance to open the scoring in the first-half, before being replaced by Academy graduate Barnes.
The youngster made an immediate impact after stepping onto the pitch, driving forward to latch onto Howard’s pass to cross for Stephen Pearson to score the only goal of the game three minutes after entering the action.
Promotion was secured with a gritty 1-0 win and it proved to be Derby’s day as they gained promotion to the Premier League.
The lead-up to the big day itself was normal for the rest of the squad, but not for Peschisolido.
“I wasn’t surprised to be playing on the day,” he told RamsTV Meets.
“I didn’t start that many games that season and was mainly used as a substitute.
“At times I was a bit disillusioned; one game I’d be playing and the next I wouldn’t be involved.
“Billy Davies could be secretive. He pulled me aside a few weeks beforehand. We had some training away in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and he told me there I would be playing in the Final at Wembley.
“I hadn’t been starting so I remember being a bit surprised. But he said to me that in the next training session he wanted me to make out I had pulled my groin to the players and staff.
“He told me he didn’t want anyone to know I was going to play. I faked an injury for that week and then gradually built things up the following week, so everyone thought I was a doubt and not going be involved.”
He added: “I did wonder if it was a double bluff. But, true to his word, I played in the Final. It was an interesting situation and I think only the two of us knew. Billy could have some strange and bizarre ways of dealing with things; I think he was looking to see if there was a mole in the camp.”
Peschisolido went on to leave Derby during the summer of 2007 at the end of his contract as the possibility of playing in the top-flight for the first time in his career passed him by.
His time with the club ended on a high note, following 103 appearances and 24 goals in Rams colours.
He only has fond memories of his time with the club and also the celebrations that followed the Play-Off Final victory.
“The win at Wembley Stadium was an amazing day,” he explained.
“If you can be assured of getting promoted, doing it in the Play-Offs is the best way to go up. West Bromwich Albion were the better team on the day, but we had the rub of the screen and were a team fighting for each other.
“The celebrations were fantastic as well. We partied through the night and I was rooming with Stephen Bywater, so it wasn’t a quiet one!”
On Derby’s fans, he added: “When you’re at a club and you have success, there’s an underlying bond which remains. Those were special times and whenever I come back I am really well welcomed. The supporters are always, and were, fantastic with me.”
Peschisolido says he’s disappointed not to see Davies involved in the game at this time.
The Scotsman hasn’t been in management since leaving his position at Nottingham Forest six years ago.
Although he wasn’t a key player under the now 55-year-old, Peschisolido enjoyed the ride under the former Motherwell and Preston North End boss.
“It’s a shame Billy isn’t in the game because I hold him in high regard,” he said.
“He raised the tempo and spirits and he also recruited really well, which really helped turn our fortunes around.
“Billy could be very secretive. He surrounded a bubble around the team, it was almost like ‘us against the world’. We had success and I really enjoyed playing under him.”
“We got ourselves into a good habit of winning games and the season went extremely well for us,” he added.
Want to know more about Paul Peschisolido’s time at Derby County, the promotion-winning campaign of 2006/07 and his entire playing career? Watch his full RamsTV Meets in the videos above!