Skip navigation
Crystal palace

      Schlupp feature: Palace memories and a bright future


      After reaching a significant milestone and scoring one of the goals of the season, Jeff Schlupp sits down to talk Premier League memories and a Crystal Palace side for the future…

      When you ask footballers about milestones, they often pretend they are not interested. The focus is just on the next game, comes the clichéd answer; they can look back on milestones once they are retired. The force of the media training is strong with this one.

      It is refreshing, then, to see Jeff Schlupp fail to conceal a broad smile when we tell him that he has hit the milestone of 200 Premier League games for Crystal Palace – only the fourth man to reach such an achievement. Having arrived as a Premier League winner from Leicester City as a 24-year-old, he has become a mainstay and a leader, a regular for manager after manager, and all while playing at (count them) left-back, centre-back, wing-back, centre-midfield, No. 10, left-wing, right-wing and, twice, centre-forward.

      “Wow, 200 Premier League games? I didn’t know that, to be fair,” he says upon hearing his tally for the first time. His smile was even broader after smashing into the back of the net against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

      All The Angles | Jeffrey Schlupp vs Fulham

      We ask Schlupp for his standout memories. “There have been some great moments – those night games against Arsenal at home, they were special,” he says. “But Manchester City, obviously. Everyone only talks about Andros [Townsend’s] goal – I happen to have scored a goal in that game! It was a massive win, 3-2 away from home.

      “It was a good goal as well! But when Andros does that, I can’t blame him…” Townsend’s 35-yard volley was nominated for a Puskas Award, but Schlupp’s was just as important in sealing a famous win. Palace have been something of a blight for Manchester City in Guardiola’s tenure, with Schlupp playing a major part.

      “Our record is reasonably good, but it’s never been easy,” he admits. “We’ve gone there and got some good results, but to get good results you need to have luck on your side. You make your own luck, I guess, but with teams like that you almost need more.

      “They’ve had players sent off before and we’ve gone on to win, but our record is pretty good compared to other teams. We came back from 2-0 down in December and we could have won it in the end.”

      Schlupp has played alongside some fantastic players at Selhurst Park, but he ranks this current side as having the possibility to grow into something special. “Talent and potential-wise, it’s got to be right up there,” he says. “I’ve been in other teams where, no disrespect to anyone, but it was an older squad. Potential-wise everyone was at their peak or coming to the end of their peak.

      “It was different. It was more of an experienced side, winning games and grinding through games. Now, you can really see the talent. We have a much younger squad, and Dougie [Freedman] and the team have done so well in bringing in these quality young players.

      “I think the time is coming now to where those players are going to start getting into their peaks. It’s a very, very exciting future ahead.” With so many young players gaining significant Premier League experience, the squad is not just growing in ability but in tactical nous and Premier League know-how.

      “There are a few players now that have been here for three or four years and you have seen them get to the beginning of their primes,” Schlupp explains. “You’ve got T [Tyrick Mitchell], you’ve got Michael [Olise], you’ve got Ebs [Eze].

      “Those young boys are stepping into that 24 or 25-years-old age group, which is normally the beginning of your peak. It’s great to see. There are going to be high expectations because they are quality players, but I think it’s up to them to take that into their stride and really show what they can do.

      “We’re a close group. We always speak and I’ve tried to help, especially when they first started coming through, but they are growing into young men now. They have had the experience now. They know what they are doing, and we obviously try to help if they need help. We’ll speak.

      “But I think they are good enough players to take on the advice that they are getting from coaches and really show it themselves now.” That same advice applies to the even younger generation: 18-year-old David Ozoh, 19-year-old Matheus França and 20-year-old Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, amongst others.

      “We clown around in the changing room and we try to get everyone as involved as we can,” Schlupp says. “We understand that for the foreign players it can be harder for them, but they are obviously picking it up and they are trying to speak English. That’s important.

      “We need to gel as quick as we can and help the younger boys come through as quickly as possible so they are comfortable. The more comfortable they are around the boys, the more their football is going to show on the pitch.

      “[David] has been with us for a little while now. I would say a couple of years since he started training with us. He obviously had Paddy [McCarthy] as his coach with the Under-21s, and Paddy is always helping him along. Seeing him come into the first-team as a man, and not a young boy coming on any more, he’s done well.

      “He played a massive part coming on against City, for example, getting back to 2-2. He’s been thrown in the deep end and he’s really held his own which is nice to see.”

      Under Oliver Glasner, there has been a significant shift in the style of play, and an intense focus on fitness – but it hasn’t been all running drills and bleep tests. Footage of the mid-season break to Marbella showed team bonding drills with players racing to do keepy-uppies while wrapped in an enormous circle, or running while tied to one another, amidst a lot of laughter and smiling faces.

      “It was definitely heavy on fitness,” Schlupp says. “It was hot, and it was tough, touch work. But it was all good work, and stuff that we needed to do. We worked on tactics. There was obviously some team bonding as well. Everyone got to know each other more with the new staff.

      “We had everyone in a band, five people within a circle holding hands and trying to move as one unit. Even just keeping the ball up, running in a circle and being connected. It’s sort of game tactics, but also making it fun and a warm-up drill. Communicating and trying to move as one. It was a bit of fun, but it was trying to work together.”

      Now, it’s time to show that team spirit and togetherness on the pitch. “We’ve been going through a tough spell, so something that is very important to him is everyone being together, working for each other and helping each other,” Schlupp says.

      “We’ve taken it on board. Everyone has upped it to a whole other level, fitness-wise and work-rate-wise, and I think it will show in the games. It’s definitely stuff we needed to do.

      “He has to get us used to playing in a different shape, and we have to get used to the manager wanting us to do different things. It’s going to take time. You can see where his thoughts are with it, and that helps everyone as we keep working at it.”

      The key, once again, seems to be communication. “It’s great – it’s almost as if we’ve known each other for way longer than it has been. The coaches are all really easy going. They tell us what they want us to do, and as long as we follow instructions and give our best everything is going to run smoothly. It has been a great introduction to each other.”

      Schlupp’s versatility has made him an asset for every Crystal Palace manager he has worked with, and his 200 Premier League games with the club are his reward. Happy to play anywhere, always keen to improve his game and with the experience of the biggest fixtures to boot, it is easy to see why each new boss takes to him so quickly.

      In a young squad under Oliver Glasner, he takes on a new role: that of the experienced leader in the dressing room, able to guide the younger players in their journey from breakthrough first-team cameos to battle-hardened top-flight regulars. He is a Premier League champion, after all.

      “You need winners and we’ve had them. Macca [James McArthur] had won the the FA Cup, and Gary Cahill had won everything. I think it’s always important to have that mentality in there. Chris Richards has won stuff with the United States and Bayern Munich. You need people used to winning stuff to let that feed into the other players.”

      The run-in is the time for cool heads and Schlupp can see an exciting future ahead for this team. As he begins the latest chapter of his Palace career under Glasner, it is a future in which he intends to play a part.