“This place certainly isn’t just about football. One of the things that’s most important I think, is we teach young people how to deal with not just success but with failure. This place is as much about teaching people resilience, important life lessons, finding your thing, seeing people around the place that look and feel like you. Maybe your future isn’t as a football player or as a coach. Maybe it is as a lawyer, as a club secretary.
“We want to make this place as diverse and inclusive as possible, and make sure every single one of the boys that passes through here – and the girls, because we have the women’s team represented here as well, who will enjoy a lot of the facilities during the summer holidays – find their thing, and they look back at their time on this place, and think: ‘maybe I didn’t make it as a pro footballer, but I’m pleased that I went there. I’m a better person for it.’
“In the next 50 years I think this will touch a vast majority of lives in south London, and from not only our club and our team, but make a real difference to our local area. We can’t make everyone one here a professional footballer, but we can give them all a positive experience.
“Our motto at Palace to sum up the spirit is South London and Proud, and I couldn’t be any more proud of this academy, our club and our community than I am right now.”
England manager Gareth Southgate
“Thank you. I’m very conscious that there are people here who have had longer and more illustrious careers than I have, Patrick and Roy in particular at the front. [There are] people who over the years have spent a lot more time dedicated their lives to Crystal Palace.
“My journey was a little bit different, so what I can stand here and say is that for me everything started here as a 14-year-old schoolboy. Hopefully, that gives some of the lads in the Academy and the parents and the people that work here the belief that you can start here, and you can have an international career with England.
“Frankly, if I can end up in charge of the national team, then anything is possible for any of you!
“What have you done here? You’ve created – Steve and the Board and everybody that’s invested in the club – something incredibly special. You’ve managed to create an elite facility but keep that feel of closeness which Palace is all about.
“The obvious thing to say is that it’s a long way removed from Mitcham where I started. If we wanted to train in the afternoon we were running out of hot water, and the canteen was meat pies and sausage sandwiches and that was it – until [Alan] Smithy decided pasta was the way forward, which was revolutionary at the time!
“It’s a long journey for the club. Does a building in itself create a fantastic environment and culture? No it doesn’t. In the end that’s going to be down to people.