He admits that the contest is not always given the recognition it deserves outside of the North East, but is convinced that there will be no love lost this weekend once the players take to the field.
"People say players don't realise what it means to the local people, but I think players are a lot cleverer than you probably think," Keane said.
"It's been building for the last few days what it means to the people of Sunderland and we won't need reminding of what it means to our supporters, don't worry about that.
"We always knew. I've obviously spoken to one or two people who have played in them and they say it is up there with the top games, your Rangers and Celtic, the United's and City's, the Liverpool's and Everton's.
"Maybe it's underestimated outside of the area, but having now been in the job two years people remind me constantly what it means to beat Newcastle and we know how important it is to our supporters."