Julio Arca excited about the return of the Sunderland vs Middlesbrough fixture

The ex-pro played over 150 games for both clubs and cannot wait for them to face off in the top flight once again this season.

Julio Arca excited about the return of the Sunderland vs Middlesbrough fixture
Julio Arca (right) battles against Sunderland for Middlesbrough. He played for the Black Cats between 2000 and 2006, before moving directly to Boro where he played until 2013. (Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Former Black Cat Julio Arca has expressed his excitement about the return of the Sunderland vs Middlesbrough fixture to the sporting calendar this season, a game which sees two of his previous clubs clash.

Arca featured over 150 times for both North-East clubs and, even though the derby is not on the same level as the Tyne-Wear one with Newcastle United, he cannot wait to see Sunderland face Boro again.

"It is a derby and everyone loves a derby," he told the Wearside outfit's official website, saying this is even more important given that the fans will "miss" the clash with the Magpies.

He believes that the Boro game will still be a "big" game, one which will bring with it "a full house and a very entertaining day."

Arca familiar with the fixture

Having spent six years on Wearside and seven years on Teesside, Arca is more than familiar with both clubs and with the fixture that sees them clash.

In the 2005-06 season when Sunderland were relegated, the Argentine's stunning free-kick in a 2-0 win over Boro was one of few highlights, with him describing the game as "probably one of the best" they played all campaign.

Meanwhile, he came off the bench for the Teessiders to head in an equaliser against the Black Cats two years later in a thrilling 2-2 draw, something he described as an "eventful" but "very short" game for him.

"I scored, I gave a goal away and then I went off injured," he recalled. 

I didn’t score many headed goals in my career but I knew that when you play against a former team you get more chances than usual," he continued, saying that this is why he "got forward a bit more" and he certainly got his reward for that.

Julio Arca watches as his header squeezes past Craig Gordon, levelling the scores for Middlesbrough against his former club. (Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Julio Arca watches as his header squeezes past Craig Gordon, levelling the scores for Middlesbrough against his former club. (Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Having scored for both sides in the derby, Arca says he "know[s] how special it feels" and so he cannot wait for someone else to feel that this season.

However, the main positive for Arca is that both of his former teams are in the top flight together once again.

"It is good to see Middlesbrough back in the Premier League after so many years," he said, with Sunderland staying up also "a great achievement."

Now, he will hope for a couple of unforgettable encounters between them in 2016-17.