Former Eagles captain Mile Jedinak left Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee to join Championship side Aston Villa last week, in a deal which most Palace fans – including me – will be hugely disappointed with.
Jedinak, who joined the club five years ago, was an unknown player who had some experience plying his trade in the Turkish Super Lig with Genclerbirligi and Antalyaspor.
After his first season in South London, it was clear to see the Aussie had natural leadership talents. His calmness on the ball, strength to hold up play for the forwards and vocal presence in his gameplay were all the required attributes for any captain of a football club.
In the absence of Paddy McCarthy; Jedinak was named as club captain and through his guidance, along with the team’s grit and determination, the Eagles defied the odds of relegation favourites to secure promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs in 2013 – with Jedinak lifting the trophy on what was a historic day for Crystal Palace Football Club.
Jedinak will have fond memories of his time at SE25, as I’m sure the fans will have of him also. During his five-year spell, he scored ten goals in 179 appearances for the club. He loved playing for Crystal Palace, you could just tell and he rarely missed a game; a true fighter on the pitch.
There are a few moments that particularly stick-out in my mind when it comes to Jedi.
His last minute goal against Peterborough United to secure a play-off spot on the final day of the 2012/13 season was a big moment for the club. The players were struggling to find their form in the final matches of the season and the last-gasp winner made way for a sixth place finish.
His inch perfect free-kick in the 3-1 win against Liverpool when the team came from behind to clinch all three points was a spectacular goal. It was one of Palace’s goals of the season, the ball flew into the top corner in what was a stand-out win that campaign.
Finally, his penalty against Everton in the 3-2 away win at Goodison Park back in 2014. I was there in the stands that day and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a Crystal Palace player.
His penalty came with the Eagles on the back foot and a goal down. He stepped up with a short, firm run up, before slotting the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Tim Howard helpless.
Since August 2013, Jedinak has made 276 interceptions in the Premier League; 68 more than any other midfielder in the league. His willingness to win the ball back and no nonsense attitude went hand in hand with the strong physical game play at Selhurst Park.
Alan Pardew seemed to shut out the Australia national team captain from his starting XI last season as he favoured the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Joe Ledley and James McArthur in the central midfield positions.
Yes, we do have the likes of Cabaye, who is a world-class midfielder and can pick out passes from just about anywhere on the pitch, but Jedinak has that old-school grit and determination. If you go into a 50/50 challenge with the big Aussie, you know you’re coming out second best.
The 32-year-old recently publically spoke out about losing the captain’s armband to central defender Scott Dann, a decision made by boss Pardew. He was clearly hurt at the decision, he worked so hard for the team and gave everything since he first joined five years ago and I think that was the moment he realised that his time with the Eagles was coming to an end.
He captained the side going into the FA Cup Final, a game we were only 12 minutes away from winning and lifting the trophy. Every time he walks out onto the pitch you can see he loves playing football and his love for Crystal Palace will never go away.
I wish him the best of luck at Aston Villa and I hope to see him back in the Premier League right where he belongs.
He has become a Palace legend over the last five years and I think I speak for every Palace fan. All the best Jedi!