“Obviously a lot has changed [since Ward arrived in 2012], but there have also been things that remained the same,” he said. “What the club stands for, the ethos of the club. That culture has remained the same.
“There have been comings and goings, there have been changes in facilities and the way things are done, and obviously being in the Premier League for the large majority of the time there have been some enormous changes: you can see that with the new Academy.”
Ward signed a two-year extension this summer to ensure his stay at Selhurst Park will extend into a second decade.
“I’ve loved my time at the club, and playing games is the most important thing for me because I want to be on the pitch,” he said. “That’s something that was a key thing for me over these years: playing football.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the likes of Wilf [Zaha], Andros [Townsend], Yannick [Bolasie], and [Jason] Puncheon on the right-hand side, but everyone I played with has had their different qualities and we’ve made different partnerships.
“A lot of the lads are genuine, honest guys, and I think that’s what has been unique about our dressing room over the years. Everyone is a level headed, honest, hard-working individual, and that relays onto the pitch collectively as a team.”
After more than 250 appearances over nine seasons, there is one teammate that embodies this for Ward more than anyone.