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Routledge explains 'difficult' Palace departure in Palace TV exclusive

30 May 2020

Speaking ahead of this weekend's 2004 play-off re-run, Academy graduate Wayne Routledge told Palace TV about his exit from south London and went on to praise former teammate, Jordan Ayew.

Routledge began his professional career with the Eagles, whose Academy he progressed through until earning his competitive debut aged just 17 in 2001. 

Over the coming seasons, the eye-catching youngster played regularly in the first-team, helping to secure Premier League promotion in '03/04 and being a core member of the top flight squad in '04/05. His ability didn't go unnoticed, and Tottenham Hotspur soon swooped in for his services. 

Now, over 15 years later, the winger has recalled the time in an exclusive interview with Palace TV.

Here's what he had to say: "It was difficult for me. It was difficult. In essence, I didn’t want to leave. I nearly left the year before. I didn’t want to leave and it was a mix between Iain Dowie and Simon Jordan, the Chairman, who said: 'No, you’re not going anywhere, we’ll get something sorted out.'

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"It kept on going and going and nothing was sorted out. I then got offered not a 'token deal', but a deal I didn’t think was right, in all honesty. I don’t think it was right. Without getting into the technical aspects, I was playing football but playing, on relative terms, not what I should have been. Fine, no problem, I’m young, whatever.

"Then I got offered something that wasn’t what I should have been offered and I had multiple offers for more [from other clubs]. I thought the right thing to do was to move on and try to better myself [playing] with better players. Me and my family made that decision as a whole.

"Other people were getting rewarded to a way bigger extent and I thought: ‘You’ve helped me, got me into this position - what do we do here?’ It’s like everything in life - if it’s not right, it’s not right. There were many things you look back on and think: 'That could have been different, this could have been different.'

"I think I remember a couple of days after it was done, and I said: 'I don’t want to go. I can’t.' I felt like, not that I’d let people down, but that I was leaving and we’d just been relegated. It didn’t feel right."

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In the interview, Routledge covers his entire time with the club, recalling the highs and lows of his incredible burst on to the professional scene.

As his time recollecting comes to a close, he lingers on the success of former Swansea City teammate, Jordan Ayew, saying: "It’s not easy to go into a team when you’ve got Wilf [Zaha] as the focal point, and [Christian] Benteke and Andros [Townsend]. The team sets itself up.

"He [Ayew] had to bide his time and wait but obviously now he’s one of the trusted three up top, because you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s always going to put his body on the line, run until he can’t run anymore and he pops up with goals. The goal against Brighton, what’s that worth? Everyone will be happy for a long time because of that.

"He’s a special person as well because there’s no ego with him. He will do all the work that people don’t want to do. A lot of people only see the goals, assists and nice things - they don’t look at the work that people do but you don’t see. The manager or coaching staff will say: 'Wow, we couldn’t have done that without him.'"

You can hear a lot more from Wayne by watching his interview below now! And don't forget - we're showing the full 2004 play-off run for free this weekend - find out more about how to watch here! Up next is the semi-final second leg v Sunderland.

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