Routledge relishing Palace reunion
21st September 2013
Wayne Routledge makes his first return to the club where his career started on Sunday - and admits it will be a special reunion.
The winger will walk into Selhurst Park for the first time since leaving Crystal Palace in 2005, with Routledge having opted to join Tottenham Hotspur following the Eagles' relegation from the top flight.
Just a year earlier, Routledge was in the starting XI as Palace clinched a return to the Premier League after beating West Ham in the Championship Play-Off Final at the Millennium Stadium.
Eight years have passed since he last ran out at Selhurst Park - a place which gave his career a platform to blossom.
Having made his debut as a 16-year-old, Routledge has a strong affinity with the club, and only illness prevented him from being at Wembley four months ago as Palace beat Watford in a tense Play-Off Final to book their spot at the top table of English football.
But now he is preparing to walk into the away changing rooms at his old stomping ground.
And the 28-year-old insists it will be a big occasion for him.
"This will be the first time I go back," said Routledge, who was in the same Palace side as current Eagles keeper Julian Speroni. "It's just the way my career path has gone and how they have done, now it's just so happened it's finally lined up so I can get to go back for the first time.
"It is going to be special for me, knowing I get the chance to play somewhere where it all began.
"Hopefully I can be involved and we can get a good result. But, yeah, to go back is a big occasion for me personally.
"And it's fitting that I go there while at a club that I'm most settled at. This is my home now and to get the chance to go back to the place where I learnt everything makes it a big occasion."
A lot has changed for both Palace and Routledge since they parted ways in July 2005.
The Eagles have spent every season in the Championship since their Play-Off Final triumph last May, while Routledge has gone on to play for Spurs, Portsmouth, Fulham, Aston Villa, Cardiff City, QPR and Newcastle United before his switch to the Liberty.
But now they meet in the top-flight, and Routledge is relishing his Selhurst reunion.
"Probably only Brian (Rogers) the kit man is still there from my days," Routledge added. "The owners have done a great job and Ian Holloway is a good manager so hopefully they can do well over the season and hopefully stay in the Premier League for a few more years.
"Palace taught me everything and I owe them more or less everything. If I do manage to get on the scoresheet, there will be no celebration as I don't know where I would have been without them."