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8 Palace Subplots To Look For At Euro 2016

9 June 2016

Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday and while they eyes of all those Palace fans in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be on the home nations, as well as those overseas cheering on their respective nations.


However there are plenty of Eagles-related subplots to look out for during the tournament, from former players who have remained in the game to those still plying their trade in SE25.


Here we look at eight things to keep your eye out for during the next few weeks


1. A record breaker

The finals looks set to be graced by the most famous pair of grey jogging bottoms in football, with Gabor Kiraly still going strong between the sticks for Hungary. The Magyars qualified for the European Championships for the first time in 44 years after beating Norway in the play-offs, with the ex-Palace keeper playing in 10 of their 12 matches and winning his 100th cap in the process.


Should he start in their opening group game against neighbours Austria, he will become the competition’s oldest ever player at 40 years and 75 days old, surpassing Lothar Matthaus’ record who was 39 years and 91 days old when he played for Germany against Portugal in 2000. 


2. Some familiar faces

As well Kiraly and the four Palace players called up for the finals, there are two more amongst the 552 selected by their nations who have previous connections to SE25. Nathaniel Clyne could face off against his fellow Eagles academy graduate and former teammate Jonny Williams when the two sides face off in the Battle of Britain next Thursday, but he has to try and edge ahead of Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand first.


Another former Palace full-back could also feature in that game. Jazz Richards played in four of Wales’ qualifiers and started their most recent friendly against Sweden. Now at Fulham, the left-back spent five months on loan in SE25 from Swansea City during the promotion campaign of 2012/13.


3. South London v South Wales

One ex-Eagle link that is guaranteed to happen though on 16th June when England and collide in Lens will be in the dugouts. Chris Coleman was voted into Palace’s Centenary XI in 2005 for his displays during his four years with the Eagles in the 90s as he helped them win the Division One title in 1994 and has since gone on to guide Wales to their first international tournament since 1958.


Roy Hodgson meanwhile was born in Croydon and grew up in the same building as Steve Kember. He joined Palace’s academy as a 16-year-old and spent three years with the Eagles but failed to break through into the first-team, leaving for Tonbridge Angels in 1966.


4. Backroom old-boys do battle

The Palace links don’t just stop at the managers. Hodgson’s assistant Ray Lewington was a coach at Selhurst Park under Alan Smith and Steve Coppell, and had a brief spell as caretaker manager in 1998 after Attilio Lombardo’s short stint as boss. 


On the other bench, new Cardiff City manager Paul Trollope is a coach under Coleman and enjoyed a loan spell with the Eagles in 1996 when he played 10 times, and current Palace physio Sean Connolly is a part of the Welsh set-up.


5. The Eagles are well-represented

With four players called up to the tournament, there are only 32 clubs that have provided more players to Euro 2016 than Palace. That is the same number as Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain and Sporting Lisbon, but more than Inter Milan (3), Lyon (3), Benfica (3), AC Milan (2), Porto (2) and Ajax (1).


6. Cabaye’s homecoming

The hosts France have been tipped as potential winners of the competition and with a squad containing the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Hugo Lloris and emerging talents such as Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial, it’s easy to see why. It also means Yohan Cabaye will have a fight on his hands to get a starting berth for Les Bleus, with N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi his main rivals.


Their first two group games against Romania and Albania should be straightforward with the final group game against Switzerland potentially deciding the group. It will take place at Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy which will stage its first ever French international, and mark the first time Cabaye has played in front of his hometown crowd since 2011.


7. A first Euro goalscorer?

Kenny Sansom is the only player in the Eagles’ history to have represented the club in the European Championships when he played twice for England in Euro 80. As he didn’t get on the scoresheet in that time, there is a chance that Palace could see their first ever goalscorer at the continental competition over the coming weeks.


For the record, the only other player to receive a call-up to the championships was Nigel Martyn back in Euro 92, when he was back-up keeper to England’s Chris Woods.


8. Our only Euros winner (to date)

With Cabaye and the Welsh trio dreaming of glory, the omens aren’t good as only one player who has ever played for Crystal Palace in their career has claimed a European Championship winner’s medal. Step forward Vassilis Lakis.


The midfielder was a member of the Greece side that shocked football by winning Euro 2004, and played in two games on their glorious, if rather dull, road to silverware – coming on as a substitute in their opening game against Portugal and their quarter-final triumph against France. Following the tournament he was a free agent and snapped up by Iain Dowie for the upcoming Premier League campaign, and he played 20 times in his solitary season before returning to AEK Athens.

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