Paul Peschisolido had many strike partners during his playing days at Derby County – but none that compare to Grzegorz Rasiak.
The pair enjoyed a fruitful partnership together during Derby’s 2004/05 Championship season under George Burley.
Rasiak arrived as a relative unknown quantity from Siena in Italy, while Peschisoldio was embarking on his first full campaign at Pride Park Stadium after joining from Sheffield United during the previous season.
As a strike pairing, the ‘big man, little man’ combination had a special feeling from the first moment.
Rasiak netted 17 goals during the campaign, while Peschisolido chipped in with a further nine to take their combined total in all competitions to 26.
Derby’s 2004/05 season saw them finish in the play-off places, but they weren’t able to crown an impressive campaign with promotion as they lost out to Preston North End in the semi-finals.
Poland international Rasiak, unfortunately, didn’t remain with Derby for too long.
His impressive form for club and country at the start of the 2005/06 season saw him move to Premier League Tottenham Hotspur at the end of August 2005.
Rasiak went on to play for Southampton, Bolton Wanderers, Watford and Reading in England before moving to Cyprus and Poland to conclude his career.
While it was a short-lived partnership, Peschisolido says playing alongside Rasiak produced what he believes was his best spell in the black and white of Derby.
Speaking to RamsTV Meets, Peschisolido said: “Grzegorz didn’t speak much English when he arrived but he did speak Italian, as could I, so I was one of the first players to really engage with him.
“He didn’t have any problem settling in, especially as we had some other players coming in that people hadn’t heard of from abroad and everyone was made to feel welcome.
“I remember myself and Grzegorz just clicked from the very first training session on his first day.
“I felt it was going to be an exciting partnership and we linked up well. My best and most consistent spell with Derby came during that time with Grzegorz. It was almost a telepathic thing and I was gutted when he left us.
“Everything knitted together between us and George Burley developed the side so well. We played some great football. It was attractive and attacking and the supporters must’ve enjoyed it, because we did for sure.”
Peschisolido made 103 appearances and scored 24 goals for Derby between March 2004 and the summer of 2007.
Then in the twilight of his career, the experienced frontman played his part in the Rams gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2006/07.
He also holds cult status for his memorable ‘Coffee Cup’ goal in Derby’s 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium just weeks after his arrival.
Forest goalkeeper Barry Roche was the unfortunate victim as the ball deflected off a stray coffee cup on the pitch as he prepared to clear his lines.
The loose ball was fired home by Peschisoldio, who scored two and set up another two against the Reds that afternoon.
When it came to joining Derby in March 2004 from Sheffield United, he says that former Rams defender and current club ambassador Michael Johnson played a part in his decision.
He explained: “I was at Sheffield United and something of a ‘super sub’ and I was getting frustrated with the situation because I wanted to play.
“I knew Michael Johnson at Derby at the time and once George Burley made an approach for me, he was on at me to sign.
“The team was in a serious relegation struggle at the time and Jonno stressed that if I came in, I could help a quality group already to stay up.
“He was right. We had a great group of lads and we managed to remain in the Championship.”
That brace against Forest meant he had got his Rams career off to a flying start, scoring four times in his opening three games.
He was also on target on his debut in a 1-0 home win over Rotherham United, as well as a narrow away defeat at Watford.
Then, of course, he stepped up to the plate in the big East Midlands derby to quickly win the hearts of the Derby supporters.
He recalled: “I was fortunate that at most of my clubs I scored on my debut.
“I managed to do it for Derby against Rotherham, which was obviously really pleasing.
“That calms nerves and especially as a striker; you don’t want people booing you and thinking you’re a waste of money.
“And then after that we had the Forest game and the ‘Coffee Cup’ goal, so I was at home very quickly and I really enjoyed my time at Derby.”
Want to know more about Paul Peschisolido’s time at Derby County, that ‘Coffee Cup’ goal, his strike partners and his entire playing career? Watch his full RamsTV Meets in the videos above!