It marked the culmination of a long journey. A boyhood Palace fan, Croydon born-and-raised, Hodgson began his playing career with the club he has since managed to transition into a Premier League staple.
From sitting in the Holmesdale Road terrace as a six-year-old to delighting it with top-flight football every week, Hodgson’s homecoming – having excelled in a variety of roles around the globe from the age of 24 – saw his career come full-circle.
His original Selhurst spell – as a youth-team player in the mid-1960s – was short-lived, and he would drop into non-league where he carved out a modest career as a midfielder and later a left-back with Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend & Northfleet, Maidstone United and Ashford Town.
Hodgson would also gain his coaching badges and earn a living as a PE teacher at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich – but it was in South Africa, as opposed to south London, where he enjoyed his greatest playing days with Berea Park in Pretoria under Bob Houghton, with whom he had attended John Ruskin Grammar School.
Following a spell with Carshalton Athletic, Hodgson was recommended to Swedish club Halmstad by Houghton, who saw him as a young English coach filled with revolutionary ideas.
Appointed manager, Hodgson’s introductions such as zonal marking, high pressing and quick counter-attacking helped him claim plenty of silverware both at Halmstad and, during the 1980s, at Malmo, where he would improve upon Houghton’s glory days.