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First Team

Benteke On Mental Strength, Facing His Old Boss & Hodgson's Qualities

3 May 2018

Christian Benteke completed Palace’s biggest Premier League victory against Leicester City with a stoppage time penalty as the 5-0 win gave the club a major step in their push for top flight survival.

From a personal point of view it was a boost for the Belgian striker to see his effort hit the back of the net and as well as the side completing an emphatic victory he was thankful to the captain for giving him the chance in front of the home fans to take the spot kick.

“We knew these few weeks were going to be important for us and we had a great win which has given us all a good feeling.  As we were playing at home we knew the crowd would be with us from the first minute and deserved to win the game and get the three points.

“It is a boost for me and good to be back on the scoresheet. I have been through hard times but that’s football and I was ready to take anything,” as he reflected on a difficult period but he is taking from the positive that he was able to pull on the quality of his mental strength when needed in a pressure situation.  

“It has been hard because I didn’t know how to react because since I have been here it is the first time that I haven’t scored the amount that I would have liked to. I was trying to look at the positives and it has made me more stronger mentally and I think if I was really down I wouldn’t have even taken the penalty .

“I didn’t even think about taking it because it is normally Luka (Milivojevic) but he asked me whether I wanted to take it and I said yes of course. Straight away after the goal I said thank you to Luka because it was a great gesture from him.”

Going into the final two games the striker knows that getting over the final line of safety is still to be done but with six points to play for his intention is to be looking upwards in the final placings as they look to build on that defeat of the Foxes last weekend.    

“We are all happy because we felt like we went a long way to being safe by winning 5-0 against Leicester but now we want to go and try and win the last two games and go higher up the table and that will be nice.

“The main thing is not to be too relaxed and obviously we are playing against sides that need to win to stay in the league so they will not be easy.”

Stoke City boss Paul Lambert is someone that Benteke has a lot of respect for having worked under him when joining Aston Villa in 2012, from Belgian club, K.R.C. Genk but he knows that the former Scotland international will only have one intention when Saturday’s match comes around.

“I will always be grateful for this man because he gave me the chance to show myself in the Premier League. He took me from Belgium and will always be thankful for that.

"He played football at a really high level so with the players he has now he wants them to play good football but now will be looking more at the result than the nice football.”

On the subject of managers, Christian was impressed from day one of the qualities that Roy Hodgson   brought to Palace’s battle against relegation.

“As soon as he came we knew we would be fine by listening to him and doing it right on the pitch. We could see he wanted us to be a compact team with a good shape and a hard team to beat.

“He is so experienced and knows exactly what to do to get the best from the team. Along with his coaches they have all been brilliant and helped us a lot to be where we are today.

“The first thing he said was that he wouldn’t have come here if he couldn’t trust us so straight he away he showed he believed in us so now we have to do the same.”

Whether it is training or a matchday the demands from the boss are the same and the 27 year old striker believes that last Saturday’s performance against Leicester City showed the qualities that Hodgson is looking for his team to produce. 

“In training he wants us to train like we play in games and to give everything. He is quite strict in terms of our work rates so he really wants us to work hard at the training ground. 

“As a manager he wants us to build from the back and play football, not just kick it long, and you could see that last week when I think we gave one of our best if not our best games this season.”

Watch the full interview now or if viewing on the club App go to Palace TV on the bottom menu. 

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