Benjamin Siegrist always suspected Dundee United was a sleeping giant in the Championship.
Now the club has exploded to life in the Premiership – and the Swiss stopper is buzzing to discover he was spot-on.
Siegrist arrived at United in the summer of 2018, with the club preparing for its third season in the second tier.
Manager Csaba Laszlo only lasted until the end of September before Robbie Neilson attempted to salvage their promotion push.
They fell short and were condemned to a fourth consecutive Championship campaign.
At times, the mood around Tannadice was bleak as the club struggled to reclaim its top tier status.
But with United flying in the Premiership under new gaffer Tam Courts, the feel good factor is back – and Siegrist could not be happier to see Tangerines fans, who are set to travel en masse to Livingston on Wednesday night, responding with customary pride.
“The turnaround in the club has been massive,” he said.
“You come into a club as a new player and you don’t know what to expect.
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“I always had the feeling that this club was a big club, but it was a bit stuck, it carried a lot of hurt from being in the Championship.
“It’s hard to say what it was like then but you look at the supporters now.
“Has it come alive again? Yes, you could say so.
“When I first came it was maybe 4,500 fans but now it is loud and they are enjoying themselves.
“It’s only now, playing at the highest level, you are seeing what the place is really like.
“The support has been incredible and the derbies have been some of the best games you can play in.
“This club is so much bigger with the fans behind us. After the derby you could feel it, it was massive for the fans to have that friendly banter.
“The fans deserve to be at the top level as much as we do.”
As United rack up the wins, expectation levels amongst fans rise.
That’s something Siegrist thrives on – and he backs his teammates to live up to the task of meeting them.
‘Belief is coming now’
“I have always said that it’s great to be at a place where expectations are high,” he said.
“There is a lot of ambition here. That was always here, but the expectation and belief is coming now.
“We have a lot of belief in what the manager wants us to do, a lot of belief in each other.”
United have conceded just six goals this season – the joint best defensive record in the Premiership alongside Celtic.
Siegrist’s shot-stopping ability has never been questioned by United fans.
But the Swiss star, who is out of contract at the end of the season, insists having a centre-half partnership like Charlie Mulgrew and Ryan Edwards in front of him has been huge.
“It feels good to have the two towers in front of me and the full backs doing a great job,” he said.
“Most of the time they’re left one-on-one and we back them to defend one-on-one, then the two big boys giving me great protection.
“That gives confidence to the midfield. Ian and Jeando… they run countless miles during a game, pressing people.
“And it starts from the front with the striker setting the press and making the ball stick when we need them for an out ball.
“There’s a confidence in each other, where everybody does their job.
“We know we’re a good team and we rely on and encourage each other on the pitch.”