“He’s got a lot to thank me for, put it that way!”, jokes Scott Guyett in Crystal Palace’s media centre, just across the car park from his usual office as Head of Sport Science and Strength & Conditioning.
The man in question with a lot to thank him for is Joel Ward, the Eagles’ long-serving right back and former Portsmouth protégé.
Back in 2008, Ward was a young prospect only in his first year of professional football before embarking on a loan spell with AFC Bournemouth. Fast forward just five years and Ward would be sending his latest club - Crystal Palace - into the top tier of English football having acrobatically cleared the ball from the line in the 2013 Play-Off final to earn promotion on his 25th appearance that season.
Since then, the now 29-year-old has amassed 216 games for the south Londoners and is rounding off his seventh year in SE25.
But it might not always have gone that way were it not for Guyett, a former teammate and mentor for Pompey’s on-loan prospect.
The pair of defenders first met while at alternate ends of their careers with Bournemouth, as Guyett began to wind down his playing days with the south coast outfit and Ward looked to develop his game to push further on in the English footballing pyramid.
“Joel was at Portsmouth and he was a young lad,” Guyett recalls. “He came to Bournemouth on loan and we ended up being roommates for a season. Me and Joel were roommates for that first season for away games, it’s one of those strange situations.
“I can remember when we signed Joel [at Palace]. Dougie [Freedman] had spoken to me about Joel because I knew him quite well. I sort of said: ‘he’s a good player, a young player with a great attitude; a good athlete,’ and I can remember ringing him a few times and encouraging him.
“There were two players at Portsmouth at the time that the club were interested in and in the end we went for Joel Ward.”
A consistent, fruitful career then continued for Ward as he cemented his place in Palace’s squad for their promotional season and subsequent inaugural campaign in the Premier League, but for Guyett things began winding to a close.
However at the denouement to a nine-year professional career, things weren’t exactly coming to a quiet head for the now 43-year-old…
“Bournemouth had come through some really, really serious financial problems and when I’d joined they’d just had a 17-point reduction,” he explains.
“There was a reunion last week that I got invited to and so did Joel: they were doing a special documentary on that season because it was an incredible season. There were three teams that got deducted points. Halfway through the season, the manager got sacked and that’s when Eddie Howe came in and kept us up.”
For anyone interested, the other two teams who received heavy points deductions were Rotherham United (also 17) and Luton Town (30) before Darlington were docked 10 later in the year. Howe’s Bournemouth remarkably finished the campaign with 46 points to their name and would have finished in 10th place had they begun 2008-09 level with the rest of the table.
But it didn’t take long for Howe to continue his miraculous turnaround in the Cherries’ fortunes and the next season saw his side promoted to League One with Premier League football following just four seasons later.
Two years his senior, Guyett was full of praise for Howe when reflecting on the triumphs of his former manager.
He said: “That season itself, if you isolate that season, what we achieved was incredible. You could see things in Eddie at the time where you thought, ‘this guy is special’, and his assistant Jason Tindall too. They worked really, really hard and had a good bunch of assistants with them.
“To be honest, I’d had a couple of injuries that season and it was a disrupted season for me. I was about 34 at the time so I knew it was coming to the end. It was good to be a part of and to see what they’ve done now is incredible. To get to the Premier League in itself is an achievement but to stay in the Premier League and be a force in the Premier League is just incredible.
“He’s the perfect fit for that football club. The fans idolise him, he knows the club inside out, he’s got a lot of staff around him that he knows he can trust; ex-players that have been at Bournemouth. They’ve got a really, really good set of staff there and I think that’s helped them.
“It’s always good to play against Bournemouth, they’re a good side and always give us a tough game. It’s always good to see the faces.
“It was a thoroughly enjoyable two years at Bournemouth.”
Palace face Bournemouth on Sunday at 3pm, and you can read more from Guyett about his gripping playing career as well as migration from Australia by picking up a copy of the official matchday programme.
This is the final edition of the season and is packed with great interviews, with Julian Speroni, Wilfried Zaha and Nya Kirby all speaking alongside Guyett and more! Hard copies only cost £3.50 from vendors around the outside of Selhurst Park or you can check out the digital version by clicking below...