Aussie Mile Jedinak has led Crystal Palace back into the English Premier League, with his side securing promotion with a 1-0 win over Watford in the Championship playoff. The Eagles captain had an injury scare, picked up a yellow card and almost headed in the winner in injury time but ultimately lifted the trophy in what is recognised as the most valuable game in world football.
The sides could not be split after 90 minutes, with neither side able to find the back of the net in front of a packed Wembley Stadium. However veteran Kevin Phillips broke the deadlock in the first period of extra-time when he stepped up to convert a penalty that had been won by Manchester United bound winner Wilfried Zaha.
While both sides had chances to win the match in regulation time, the result was seen as a fair reflection of the match as Palace created better chances than their more fancied opponents. Watford captain and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was immense for the Hornets, pulling off a succession of saves throughout the contest, which ultimately proved to be in vein.
The win sees Crystal Palace return to top-flight football after an eight-year absence, banking in the process an estimated A$190 million. It completes a meteoric rise for Jedinak, who only four years ago was playing in the A-League for the Central Coast Mariners, before leaving for Turkey. He joined Crystal Palace mid-2011 and was this year voted their player of the year.
The modest midfielder was full of admiration after the match calling the result a dream come true. “I’m feeling so many things at the moment but most of all just proud of my team and my teammates for making this all possible," he said.
With Mark Schwarzer out of contract and yet to negotiate a new deal at Fulham and Brett Holman seemingly out of favour at Aston Villa, it’s quite possible the Socceroo will be the only Aussie seeing first team action in the EPL next season. Of course before then he will be an integral part of the Socceroos, as they seek to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
While the Premier League is currently on hiatus, it’ll only be a short few months before we will see EPL action once again returning to Selhurst Park. There will be many questions to be answered before then with the manager merry-go-round and transfer window in full swing but you can bank of Jedinak being there with the captain’s armband on the opening day.