Throughout the World Cup, we will be looking back at ex-Eagles and their contributions for their various countries. Australia will take the field today against Denmark, led out by the most successful international in Palace’s history.
He may be Crystal Palace’s record cap holder and scored more goals on the world stage than anyone else in Eagles history, but there is one statistic that no-one can ever take away from Mile Jedinak.
It came just over four years ago in Porto Alegre during a memorable week for the Socceroos skipper. Five days earlier, he had strode out of the tunnel in Cuiabá to etch his name in his nation’s footballing history as a World Cup captain, and despite a 3-1 defeat to Chile he was thrilled with the accolade.
“It was a special moment in my career,” he said to the Palace website after the tournament. “To be one of only four men to do it for your country is some feat and something you don’t take too lightly. It’s very special and a memory I won’t forget.”
But things were to get even better in their next game against Holland. A thrilling contest produced one of the games of the tournament, with Tim Cahill’s superb volley cancelling out Arjen Robben’s opener just 60 seconds earlier.
Then in the 54th minute, a handball by Daryll Janmaat allowed Jedinak to make Palace history from 12 yards. Stepping confidently up to the spot, he sent Jasper Cillessen the wrong way and found the bottom corner to become the first Eagle to score a goal at a World Cup.
Louis van Gaal’s eventual semi-finalists would ultimately prevail 3-2 thanks to goals from Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay to eliminate the Aussies, but upon returning to the dressing room a disappointed Jedinak was briefly perked up when he found out about his latest achievement.
“I got a text from Steve Browett after the game telling me about that little stat, and it’s great,” he said. “I was happy to step up for the penalty and score the goal to put us in the lead, if only for a brief period.
“When I looked back after the game I was like ‘wow – the game is over and I’ve actually scored in a World Cup’. I would never have imagined that but it happened and it’s another great memory to take away from the tournament.”
Before departing to Aston Villa in August 2016, the Palace legend would enjoy more memorable moments in gold and green. In January 2015 he guided Australia to the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil, and in November that year he would break Palace’s international goalscoring record, which he still holds with 10.
Then in May 2016, he surpassed Aki Riihilhati to become the player with the most international caps won during their time with SE25, eventually finishing with 38 to his name.
Those feats might be surpassed one day, but that spot-kick against the Dutch has ensured his place in Palace history forever.