Crystal Palace midfielder Jonny Williams will today leave the club having spent 17 years of his life here, and he reflected on his Palace career while leaving a message for the fans as he did.
He said, "It’s a very strange feeling, I don’t think it’ll hit me until I properly leave. But I’ve made some great memories here and met some great people who’ll I’ll stay in touch with for the rest of my life. Palace has been my life."
Williams joined the Crystal Palace Academy aged eight-years-old and has seen the club evolve from close to relegation and administration to competing in an FA Cup Final while enjoying six consecutive years in the Premier League.
"I think the club has come on leaps and bounds," he reflected. "We’re a good Premiership team now. I’ve been there when we were borderline in administration. I was in the Academy and if we didn’t beat Sheffield Wednesday that day, I might have had to go and look for another team. That says it all really. I went to the Wolves game the other night and we were better than them. That’s a credit to what the gaffer’s created.
"My debut against Coventry City at home was a highlight. Dougie [Freedman] brought me on with about 20 minutes left, we were 1-0 down and managed to win 2-1 with two late goals. The Play-Off Final was something I’d never dreamed of as a kid.
"To be doing that at 19 with the club I’ve been with all my life was a dream come true to be honest. I didn’t actually sleep that night! I’d been to the final against West Ham United when Neil Shipperley scored and I just spent all my time watching videos, it meant so much to be to get that win. Making my Premier League debut was also something I never thought I’d do in my career. To do it in a Palace shirt made it a very special day.
"Palace has been my life since I was eight-years-old, getting off the bus for training every day with my Mum and Dad taking me. They made my dream come true for me. They gave me an opportunity to excel and I managed to make my way through the ages.
"I haven’t really looked back since. I’ve had some ups and downs, but it means so much to pull on the red and blue and it’s been a dream come true for me. The fans have been amazing with me whether I’ve been injured or playing regardless.
"I can’t thank them enough for all the support they’ve given me over the years because it’s really got me through some tough times and it’s made me want to get back quick. I can’t thank them enough and I wish everyone at Palace all the best. I’ll be back to watch, it holds a special place in my heart so I’ll be back for sure."
To see the full interview with Williams, watch the video below now.