Newcastle Jet Mateo Poljak will be cheering on his former teammates as the Wanderers head into enemy territory for the Hyundai A-League's first Sydney Derby - a fixture he says tops some of the fiery Croatian derbies he's seen.
The “special” battles with Sydney FC were a highlight for the 26-year-old during his three seasons with the Wanderers.
Poljak was one of a host of players to exit Wanderers this off-season, with many of Tony Popovic’s Wanderers squad this weekend heading into the white-hot atmosphere of their first Harbour City derby.
And what a cauldron Allianz Stadium will be for what is always a highlight of the Hyundai A-League calendar.
“It’s such a special game Western Sydney against Sydney FC. It’s going to be a huge crowd, packed out and that’s something you play for,” Poljak told www.a-league.com.au
“It’s something that makes you feel like a footballer and makes you feel special. You have that spirit and energy when you play a game like that.
“I can’t compare it to anything else. The fans are there to support you and they do help a lot, they are like the 12th man.
“It’s a game that brings a bit of pressure as well. If you win that game your confidence is through the roof.
"It’s a huge pump up and if you win that the next couple of games you can feed yourself off that.”
While admitting the occasion and atmosphere of the derby can be overawing for some players, he expects the new-look Wanderers to handle it.
“They have players with a good calibre and that have played a lot of big games. The Spanish boys and [Federico] Piovaccari as well,” Poljak explained.
“I think they are going to feel special. It’s that city rivalry that you don’t see very often.
“I played in Croatia obviously and that’s a huge derby but I don’t remember having a big crowd like here with 40,000 fans, very vocal and a lot of emotions in that game.
“You know how much it means and I’m sure after the game they will say how good the atmosphere and the game was.
“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the game and how they are going to play in that.”
Poljak says he has so many fond memories of his time at Pirtek Stadium and feels his now side can have just as much success as the Wanderers did.
In fact, industrious midfielder sees a lot of similarities between his former employers and his new home.
“I can compare it in many ways especially with Wanderers in season one because everything is new. The Jets are in the stage of rebuilding where Wanderers had just started as a new club,” Poljak explained.
“Pretty much no one knows what to expect but we have the belief in the group. We know what we are able to achieve and how good we are.
“But outside of our group people are probably still doubting us and I can compare that in many ways to the Wanderers.
“There’s lots of new faces, the coaching staff, everything is put together in a short period of time, that’s a similarity as well.
“I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t think we could be successful. I’m always striving for success and being the best. I see this as a chance to be better and make a step forward in my career.”