Jonny Williams says it will be a “dream come true” when he pulls on the red and blue stripes for Crystal Palace at Wembley on Monday.
The midfielder is battling for a starting place against Watford in the Championship Play-Off Final – a fixture he had not even contemplated at the start of the campaign.
Williams said: “I’m really excited. I didn’t think we’d end up here at the start of the season so it’s great news for everyone at the club. The form we showed in the last few games of the season was positive.
“That win on the last day of the season was vital just for everyone it was a big relief and we could feel that at the end of the game to get a win after 10 games.
“We took that into Brighton, got two clean sheets and now we’re at Wembley. The confidence is definitely there from these last few results and beating our rivals the way we did at their ground has really helped going into this game.
“It hasn’t quite sunk it what could be achieved if we win this one game, but we will try 100 per cent. The team will work hard and we want to get the win and play in the Premier League – and we are only one game away from doing that.”
A 10-year-old Williams was among the thousands of Palace supporters who flocked to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2004, when Iain Dowie’s side clinched promotion to the Premier League with a play-off final victory over West Ham.
And the Welsh international admits he never imagined he could find himself in a similar situation on the other side of the touchline.
“It’s a dream to be honest. I still remember it clearly that day, when we won 1-0 and to think I’m in a squad now that has done so well this year and got in the play-off final is just great.
“It’s something I dreamed about as a kid and it just shows that dreams do come true. I’m really looking forward to it – it will be a very special day for everyone involved at the club.”
Childhood Chelsea supporter Williams goes up against one of his footballing heroes at Wembley, in the shape of Gianfranco Zola. And the youngster is hoping it will be third time lucky for the Eagles, after failing to win on their two previous encounters with Zola’s men this season.
“It’s a bit strange to be honest,” Williams said. “When I was a Chelsea fan when I was younger, I used to go and watch them and he was the one play that I loved watching. The way he moved and his technical ability was just fantastic. He was one of my heroes.
“When we last played them it was a bit strange and now I’ve got the chance to do it again and hopefully we can win this time around when it matters most.”