Skip navigation

Eze reveals all on England text, injury, recovery and Patrick Vieira

Features

Eberechi Eze turns from a deep thinker well beyond his years to a cackling supporter in awe of Patrick Vieira in a matter of seconds.

This year, he’s been through one of the toughest experiences a player can. But he isn’t bitter or impatient. He doesn’t brush over multiple setbacks with the usual awkward platitudes.

But, of course, he doesn’t drop his trademark smile either.

Speaking with Premier League Productions, the Crystal Palace midfielder gave a revealing interview about the last four months in which he sustained an injury described by then-manager Roy Hodgson as “devastating” and “freak”.

stream amg video

But the pain for Eze didn’t end there, as he returned to the medical room afterwards to find a call-up to the provisional England squad just weeks before Euro 2020 began.

In his own words, the 23-year-old recalls what happened.

“It was mad,” Eze smiles. “Roy said he’s leaving, which was sad. I didn’t know it was happening but there was a feeling around the place that was unsure. To hear him say it was: this isn’t good. I didn’t like that.

“Then to go and play, get injured in that way. I’d just received the ball and went to push off and it felt like someone had kicked me as hard as they could in the back of my Achilles. I looked round and no one’s there so I’m like: ‘Yeah, I know this is bad.’ I’m holding it. The adrenaline could have allowed me to get up and walk but I’m saying to myself: ‘Yeah, I know this is a problem.’ I’m already crying, I’m in tears.

“I go into the doc’s room and was thinking: ‘Oh, my gosh.’ I’m thinking about my parents – what are they going to [say] when I tell them this? My parents worry about me anyway, so this is going to be terrible for them.

“I asked Danny [Young, Player Liaison Officer] if he could get my phone. He brings it and I see a message from someone from England. It wasn’t me being selected, but it was the provisional: ‘You could potentially be selected for the 30.’ So when I saw that I was just like:” - Eze laughs at this point - “‘Yeah, that makes sense. That’s probably about right.’

“The way I see it, if I was meant to be there [the Euros], I would have been there. God had another plan and He wanted to use this for whatever reason. I’ve just got to get my head around it… I had to put my phone down. I realised this is God’s plan because you couldn’t write that. At all. From where I’ve come from to this point now, this is far beyond anything I could control.”

The injury has had Eze returning to fitness since May, a period in which the club has changed markedly. He’s been forced to watch the players and manager implement an exciting new style from the sidelines, but has adopted quite the philosophy to deal with it.

Rather than moan or discuss unrealistic return dates, Eze says: “I know that I’m capable of achieving amazing things at football. I know that in myself and I believe in myself in that way. It’s how I’ve been taught. It gave me that sense but it also gave me the sense I could be at peace through this whole process. I don’t need to rush or to put pressure on myself to come back.

“I know that, within myself, I can be at peace with all this, do all the work and come back as fit as possible, as good as possible. The things that are meant to come will come. That’s the way I think life is.

“You’re sitting on the side and the worst thing is you’re thinking of positions you’d be picking up the ball and stuff like that. So it’s dangerous to go too far into that because you start to rush yourself and put pressure on yourself. For me, I’m just enjoying watching the team right now because they’re playing so well and they’re doing exactly what I would have hoped in this team. It’s great to watch that and, seeing that, I just can’t wait to get back and to join them.”

Having grown up in the Arsenal Academy system, Eze spent many of his formative years idolising Vieira’s Gunners team. Today, now working under him, he’s working to start competing for the new Palace manager.

But, despite having been unable to play under Vieira yet, Eze has already felt his impact.

He ends his interview with an insight into life on Copers Cope Road, and why he’s happier now more than ever:

“I don’t tell [Vieira] this, obviously! The first time I walked in and saw him, I felt something inside me that made me sit up. I was thinking: ‘This isn’t supposed to happen. He’s a human being just like me. I shouldn’t be doing this!’ But there’s a presence about him that is just – I don’t think I’ve had that speaking to anybody.

“After speaking to him, he’s such a down to earth guy. He meets you at your level and you speak to him on your level. It’s not like this [Eze hold his hands apart, one above the other], it’s an honest conversation. So for me I can’t tell you how happen I am to be here. I’m so grateful, honestly.

“It’s an exciting time to be a Palace fan, to be at Palace. I believe anything is possible. The players we’ve got right now and the way we played at the weekend [v Tottenham Hotspur] was proof this works. If we take it game by game we could end up wherever.

“It’s a brilliant time for me; I’m just – again, I don’t want to rush, to put pressure on myself – but the day I come back is going to be beautiful for me. A beautiful experience stepping out with the fans. I haven’t experienced all the fans before. It’s going to be like my debut all over again. Amazing.”