Exclusive Interview with Young Crystal Palace Star James Daly

31st March 2018, Selhurst Park, London, England; EPL Premier League football, Crystal Palace versus Liverpool; Steps lead to a Crystal Palace sign advertising season tickets for season 18-19 (Photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images)

From Wilfried Zaha to Nathaniel Clyne, Crystal Palace are known for producing some quality players through their academy system. With Christian Benteke, Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham all sidelined with injury, 18-year-old forward James Daly was given a place on the bench in the Premier League on April 7th when Crystal Palace visited Bournemouth. This was a landmark moment for the young man who could only have dreamt of coming this far so quickly into his career. After a good season with the Under-18s and Under-23s squads, James Daly is ready to progress even further in the red and blue strip.

Exclusive Interview with James Daly

Q. How old were you when you were signed up for Crystal Palace and how did you feel knowing that they were interested?

Daly – “I was 14 years old. Playing for my county, Sussex, and then had been asked to come in for a trial and all went well. I was nervous at first as I hadn’t been in an academy set up before really. I was also optimistic as I knew this would be a chance to develop with high-level players and coaches”

Q. When growing up, who was your football idol and why?

Daly – “I had a few, to be honest, all for the same reason, which is that they were exciting to watch. Thierry Henry was the first player I could remember being all over the TV screens as a kid and the way he used to brush past defenders and score from every angle and distance. Didier Drogba was a more recent idol, as he always found himself being in the right places at the right times and getting goals on big occasions as well”.

Q. How were you feeling when you found out you would be on the bench for CPFC against Bournemouth?

Daly – “It was a shock for sure. For the manager to have belief in me to put me there knowing how young I was and the lack of experience I had in senior football was great. I believed I was doing well in training and therefore must have impressed. It was such an honour, growing up it was almost every boy’s dream to play in the Premier League, and even though I was just on the bench it’s motivated me a lot to know the rewards for hard work and dedication”.

Q. The Crystal Palace fans are known for being some of the loudest in England; how did it feel warming up on Saturday tasting your first real experience of the fans on a match day?

Daly – “It’s a feeling you can’t quite describe, Palace fans are notorious in the Premier League for their support. It felt amazing, to have such great support just makes you want to perform and get results for them. I was nervous at times but understanding they’re behind you helps to ease the nerves”.

Q. You have had a very successful few months with the U23’s recently, how has that been?

Daly – “It’s been very good for me, the physical and technical side is higher than U18’s as a lot of teams can feature senior pros, so it means your game has to rise to be able to perform at the standard. I still feel like I’ve got a lot of developing to do but it’s been a good start. Richard [Shaw] and Dave have helped me a lot to understand the centre-forward role in terms of where to position myself and when and where to make runs”.

Q. Roy Hodgson is a very intelligent man; how has it been working directly under him for the last week or two?

Daly – “It’s been great. He’s full of good advice and wise words so it’s been very useful to have him to help with my game. He’s a manager with huge experience so it’s good to understand his expectations in training so you know what it takes to impress and be successful”.

With Palace boasting a strong history of producing quality young players, James Daly will be very confident that he can progress even further with the club and, with a full pre-season ahead of him, make a permanent move into the match-day squad. Daly can take heart from the fact that young players like Marcus Rashford, Dominic Solanke and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all taken huge steps in their development over the last year or two, continuing to be in and around the squad each week. Under the intelligent Roy Hodgson, who knows just how far Daly can go.

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