Wayne Routledge: Palace taught me everything
WAYNE Routledge makes a long-awaited return to his beloved Crystal Palace this weekend pledging not to celebrate if he scores against the club who "taught him everything".
Palace fan Routledge came through the ranks with the Eagles, making his first-team debut way back in 2001 when he was only 16.
He went on to make more than 100 appearances for the South London club — he was ever present in their 2004-05 Premier League campaign — before joining Tottenham in controversial circumstances in the summer of 2005.
Now Routledge, who was born just down the road from Selhurst Park, has finally got the chance to run out once more at the club where he was raised. "This will be the first time I actually get to go and play there since I left," said Routledge, who has played for nine different clubs since leaving Palace.
"That's just because of the way my career path has gone and how Palace have done.
"Now it just so happens that 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 for me.
"Hopefully I can be involved and we can get a good result, but for me to go back makes this a special occasion." Routledge's first start for Palace came against a Wolves in September 2002 — and he scored within a minute of kick-off.
The local lad was popular with the fans — although some turned against him when he refused to sign a new contract.
When he joined Spurs, the fee was decided by tribunal after Palace fell out with their London rivals over the way they handled the Routledge transfer.
Then Palace owner Simon Jordan criticised both Spurs and Routledge in public — and the Swansea City winger admits what went on still hurts.
"Massively," he added. "Palace taught me everything and I owe them more or less everything. I don't know where I would have been without them. When I left it wasn't on great terms but I did it for the right reasons, it is what it is and I am where I am now. Hopefully it will be a good game but, if I was to score, I would not celebrate.
"Normally I would, but not against Palace."
Routledge is likely to return to the Swansea starting line-up tomorrow having sat on the bench during Thursday's extraordinary win over Valencia.
The likes of Leon Britton, Jonjo Shelvey and Ben Davies are also tipped for recalls, while Ashley Williams will be recalled if he can shake off the ankle injury which forced him out of the Mestalla triumph.
Swansea are aiming to round off a fine week by getting a result at Palace — but Ian Holloway's team will be desperate to take points on their own patch.
"Ian Holloway knows how to set up a side and they will be a real challenge for us," said Routledge.
"The owners have done a great job and 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.
"For me, I am going back when I'm the most settled I've been since I left. Swansea is my home now, and now I get the chance to go back to the place where I learnt everything."
Energy levels are a concern for Michael Laudrup as Swansea attempt to extend their unbeaten run to four games — but his players are on a high after their Valencia triumph.
"Playing at massive stadiums against massive clubs like Valencia and winning 3-0 will only ever give you a big confidence boost going into the next game," Routledge pointed out.
"If we put what we have done in the last three games together, I'm sure we can come away with a good result tomorrow."