Written by FYP Fanzine

The former Eagles captain opens up about most of his career including that FA Cup final to former Palace TV presenter Alex Howell.

We all love Jason Puncheon. 

For a number of reasons; for crying after that goal against Norwich, for that silly yet lovable celebration, for getting injured while chopping down Kevin de Bruyne, for growing up yards from Selhurst, for just getting what playing for Palace meant. And for that FA Cup fnal goal.

It's been almost a year now since Punch left for Cypriot club Pafos after six years at the club, and three years since he joined us on the FYP Podcast, and we'll be honest, we miss him every day.

But thankfully former Palace TV presenter Alex Howell has brought Punch back into our lives with a fantastic interview as part of his new At Hme series, chatting to footballers from thier homes during the Covdid-19 lockdown.

Punch discussess his entire career with Alex but the bit that will interest Palace fans most is his really very honest admissions around the 2016 FA Cup final, starting with the moment he realise he wasn't going to start, despite having score that goal against Norwich a few weeks prior to secure the club's Premier League survival.

"What made it worse is where I knew Pards as a person, I knew I wasn’t playing from the week before," he said. "Because I know how he is with me. Me and him. He never told me until two days before, but I knew. Because I could just sense just little things. Like I knew him probably as well as he knew me as a person, how he managed, how he was, I could see when I wasn’t going to play when I was going to play. And I knew but you can never admit to yourself that that's going to happen, but I knew.

"So anyway he tells me on the Thursday and I just said "thank you" and walked out of the office. That's it. You've made your decision, there is nothing I am gonna say to you that's gonna change [that decision]. I really don't want to argue, just think that's pointless. I went and sat in Danny [the kitman's] room for about half an hour on my own until training.

"Me and Danny were close and me and Damo were close and Damo came in an and said "You alright?" I said "it is what it is, I can't change nothing, but at the end of the day I said I've got obviously players to worry about. Yannick and Wilf at the time they really looked up to me, they were like my little brothers. And I just sat there and thought 'do you know what even if I was in the team if there are two boys that are going to be so pivotal to this game to us it's going to be them two, if they see me sulking or down that will affect them' so I had to be strong for the group even though inside you're burning."

 

Of course Punch saw Yannick and Wilf as younger brothers, that only makes us love him more. And of course, he then came off the bench with 20 minutes to go and didn't take long to score just Palace's fourth ever FA Cup final goal, with a superb volley at the back post on 78 minutes.

The celebration that followed showed the sort of togetherness that squad had, says Punch.

He said: "People don't really notice it. Obviously Wayne didn't but how many people actually ran to that corner was brilliant and you've got to think there was Baky [Sako] on the sideline, there was Adebayor on the sideline on the bench, they all ran down. And to see that and when you look at some of those pictures, don't get me wrong there were some things that were bad but this was something that made people realise how together we were at the time and for me it's priceless having that in football.

Famously, he appeared to shout something towards Alan Pardew on the touchline as he celebrated his goal and he revealed what he was saying at that exact moment.

"I was upset with Pards, he knows that, we spoke about it," said Punch. "I was upset with him but when I look back at it, it was a good move as a manager. Because he knows my character, he knows me well I know him well. Some players he might drop and they'll might sulk, he'll put them on and then they might bring that sulkiness onto the pitch.

"He knew I was a fighter, so he knew he could drop me and I would be like ‘alright I'll show you’. And he could take that burden of 'right, you know what, Punch has proved me wrong'. That’s how my character is, it was never give up and fight. So it was a good move, it is just a shame we didn’t win."

Of course, it wasn't to be (again) and Manchester United went on to win in extra time having equalised Puncheon's opener just three minutes later when Wayne Rooney was allowed to waltz through the Palace defence and set up Juan Mata.

Puncheon still regrest not chopping Rooney down at the start of his run but also had some harsh words for referee Mark Clattenburg who had a shocker of a final, and later admitted as much.

Punch added: "You look back at it and there's so many things. You look back at it and think, and I know it sounds crazy but 'flip me, I should have kicked Rooney up in the air' but I didn't. And there's other players along the way that could have kicked him up in the air. It was weird for our team character, when we went ahead we'd hold onto leads...that that happened in a final.

"I do think the ref killed us. Clattenburg ridiculous, for me a disgrace personally. If you look back at things, to see the boys later and say "I'm sorry I got that wrong" we should have had a red card or a goal in the first minute. First 5/10 minutes. Could have been a completely different game. Rooney should have seen red, was on a yellow card from 65 minutes made how many tackles? Just kept on leaving, leaving and leaving.

"But that's football for you, you can't change it, you can only look back on it and I'm hoping that in my lifetime I get to see Crystal Palace win the FA Cup. That's one thing I'd love for sure."

Watch the full interview with Punch below...

Alex has also interviewed Jeff Schlupp, Jonny Williams and more. Check out his Youtube channel here.


 

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