Nov 14, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT
Not a lot of good things have happened to Crystal Palace this season so with the announcement that the Football Federation Australia has named Mile Jedinak their Player of the Year, let’s take a moment to recognize one of the Eagle’s bright spots.
In large part Jedinak won the award for his efforts in captaining Crystal Palace to what many deemed to be a shock promotion to the Premier League last spring.
After finishing fifth in the Championship by virtue of a final week victory, Palace saw off Brighton & Hove Albion in the play-off semi-finals and Watford in the play-off final to gain promotion to the England’s top-flight for the first time in eight years.
“It was a massive year, it was very successful and one I’m not going to forget in a hurry,” Jedinak said upon receiving the honor.
Life in the Premier League has proven difficult for Palace so far, beating only Sunderland and drawing with Everton for a total of four points in 11 matches. But parity among the league means the Eagles are down, not out, and if Palace are to pull off the incredible it will be at the hands of their burly captain.
Jedinak is a grinder. With an unstoppable engine and a penchant for tough tackling, he can be a nightmare for opposing teams. Planted alongside the similarly broad-shouldered Kagisho Dikgacoi, the pair have proven very difficult to unlock.
Jedinak’s story is one of a late bloomer. He spent five years as a semi-professional at Sydney United before receiving the call to play in Australia’s top league with Central Coast Mariners. After three productive seasons, Jedinak decided to take his game abroad and signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish club Genclerbirligi.
At 27-years-old Jedinak then moved to Palace, became a fan favorite in his first season, was handed the captain’s armband in his second season and is now raising eye-brows with his rugged performances in the Premier League.
With his POY award in tote, Jedinak remains a player to watch as Palace seek to fight off relegation. Even if the Eagles go down, don’t be surprised if the Aussie is scooped up by a Premier League mainstay this summer.
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