Having spent over nine years playing alongside one another professionally, Wilfried Zaha and Julian Speroni have written their name into Palace history side by side, each becoming a south London legend in their own right.
Now, with Speroni set to depart the club after his contract expires at the end of the season, Palace's academy graduate Zaha has praised the veteran shot-stopper, who made his Palace debut when the winger was just 13-years-old.
Speaking in an interview with Palace TV on Speroni's receiving of the Chairman's Award for Outstanding Contribution, Zaha said: “Before I was even in the first team he was unbelievable.
“And then managing to meet him you see how much of a gentleman and a nice guy he is. I’m happy to have been at Palace at the same time as he is.
“He’s been a mentor for me,” he continued. “Obviously, we play in different positions but whatever I was going through he would be someone I could speak to about anything.”
Zaha wasn't the only one praising their fellow icon, however, and Speroni spoke with press following the End of Season Awards to adulate his teammate, whom he kept goal behind over nine years ago when a then 17-year-old Zaha made his professional debut.
“We have a special bond,” the 'keeper said. “I have known him since he was a young boy and I saw him grow to become the unbelievable player that he is now.
“It makes me really proud and he deserves it. He deserves it because I have seen him work really hard when he was younger – and he still works really hard. The fact that he is such a massive player for us, I couldn’t feel prouder of him.”
Speroni was then asked whether or not Zaha can break his club record for the most Player of the Season awards won. With four to his name against Zaha's three, the 39-year-old backed the Ivorian to achieve the feat.
He said: “If someone is going to break the record it will be Wilfried and I will be so pleased for him. If someone is going to break it I hope it’s him because he deserves it, he’s done fantastically for us. Records are there to be broken so it will be broken sometime, and I hope it’s him, but who knows? We’ll see.”
Zaha ended his praise for Speroni by picking out two iconic moments in the club's history from 2013, where the 'keeper was at the heart of the action to earn Palace promotion to the Premier League.
“In the semi-final play-off against Brighton and then final against Watford, those two saves he made were not only defining for the club but especially for me as well. He’s a Palace hero for sure.”