Levi Lumeka realised his boyhood dream as he came off the bench to take his place in the game at Burnley on Sunday afternoon.
The 19 year old made his first Premier League appearance in the defeat and the youngster spoke of what it meant to him to get the recognition of a first team place.
“It was a good feeling for me, to make my first team debut is something I have dreamed about since I was eight years old. I have worked hard for it, been patient and it has been great to have had the opportunity to train with the first team and then the manager informed me I was going to be included in the squad so to be involved in the game was a very good feeling."
After finishing top scorer for the academy side in 2015/16, Lumeka repeated the feat with the development side last term despite also combining his playing duties with the under-18s. The attacking midfielder is at home on the wing or as a striker and has been showing his qualities to the watching Frank de Boer when he has had the chance to take part in first team training sessions.
The boss informed Levi earlier this week that he would be part of the squad travelling after impressing his manager on a daily basis.
“I knew a couple of days ago that I would be travelling up and I just couldn’t stop smiling for the whole day but training with the first team is that chance to show the manager what I can do so after working hard to get to this point it makes today a special one for me.
“The manager said I had been working hard, expressing myself well and had shown him that I had the confidence in my ability so I was pleased he had seen enough from me to give me that chance to get a place in the squad.”
Once in the travelling party it became clear that he was going to be part of the matchday squad and even though the obvious nerves were in evidence at times, the former Palace academy graduate took it in his stride.
“I have waited for this opportunity so wanted to make the most of it, not be nervous but be confident in my own ability and even though it is natural to feel a few nerves I just told myself that this was my chance to show the Palace fans and manager what I can do should I get the chance through the game to get involved.
Then as the clock ticked on to the 65th minute the number 32 was shown and it was time to make his top flight debut so we asked Lumeka what the instructions were from the boss.
“He said you have shown me what you can do in training, just take players on and try and get crosses into the box which is what I tried to do when I got on. In the end though it’s a mixed day for me as I make my Premier League debut but it would have been better if we had got at least a draw away from home. Burnley are a good side and we knew what to expect from them and after our performance to come away with not even a point is quite disappointing for us all.”