Joel Ward hails Crystal Palace ‘best’ ever for Patrick Vieira transformation


oel Ward has hailed the current Crystal Palace squad as the best he has seen as he prepares to celebrate 10 years at Selhurst Park.

The defender also hailed the “complete contrast” in the style of play under Patrick Vieira this season which has left the Eagles within reach of a first half with three games to play, only slipping to 11th place after the Leicester win over Norwich last night.

Ward signed for Palace from Portsmouth for just £400,000 in May 2012 and proved a magnificent servant, making over 300 appearances for the club.

The 32-year-old was part of the famous Class of 2013 winning side and one that reached the FA Cup final under Alan Pardew three years later, but says the current crop has come out on its own .

“I think the success we’ve had this season shows that the club and the team are probably the strongest they’ve ever been and the depth of the team as well,” he said. “The style we play in is a stark contrast to what we have learned over the years and the club’s vision and ambition are moving in the right direction.”

Palace came close to marking their progress this season with another FA Cup final appearance, losing 2-0 to Chelsea in the last four at Wembley last month.

As the Blues prepare to face four-time chaser Liverpool in Saturday’s showpiece, Ward reflected on a memorable run.

“It’s special and it’s no small feat to get where we have arrived,” he added. “We had to play a lot of games, tricky games and tough games all the way. But I think you have to assimilate it and soak it up because few people go that far.

“You know, not many people get the opportunity to go out at Wembley. For some of the younger players it was their first time. For some of the older players it might be their first time but also their last time, so it “It’s always special. You really have to soak up those moments throughout your career to be able to remember them and enjoy them.

“Fans, when that final whistle sounded, it wasn’t like we just lost, it felt like we just won and the kind of euphoria all around the stadium was high. It was dynamic and it was bouncing and it shows you how much this club means to the fans.

standard Sport

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