There is one extra bit of kit laid out for Ward to don in front of the cameras. The captain’s armband sit atop the red and blue, ready to adorn the bicep of Palace’s new permanent skipper.
This interview originally appeared in the Crystal Palace v Arsenal matchday programme. You can shop for programmes by clicking HERE.
Although football is a global sport, the sport itself can feel quite insular. When so many seem out to get you – be they opposition, media, agents or more – trust is paramount. If there is one thing Joel Ward has inspired in a succession of managers in a 12-year stint at Crystal Palace, it is trust.
It’s why Roy Hodgson has chosen him to lead the dressing room. A modern captain does more than corral the troops in the tunnel and sort out tickets for families on matchday. A captain has to be a conduit between dugout and dressing room, a passage for players to get their concerns across to staff and for coaches to gauge the collective mood.
Ward has missed just one game since Hodgson’s return, and the pair seem to trust one another implicitly. “Roy coming back in gave us that lift and gave us the opportunity to get out of that cycle that was difficult to break,” he says. “We went on a great end to the season which any team in the Premier League would have been happy with.”