20 Sep Souare touched by warm welcome back
Defender Pape Souare was touched by Crystal Palace fans’ reaction to his return to first-team football following a year out with a career-threatening injury.
The left-back played the second half of Tuesday’s 1-0 Carabao Cup third-round defeat of Huddersfield, concluding his remarkable recovery from a serious car crash in September 2016.
Souare feared he may never play again when he suffered a broken jaw and thigh bone in a crash so severe he needed to be cut from his car.
His father also died in December, and in his absence Palace signed two left-backs in Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp.
Asked if he felt emotional stepping onto the Selhurst Park pitch as the club’s fans chanted his name, Souare said: “Yeah, definitely. That touched me a lot and I give everything for them.
“It made me happy. It is a good feeling to be on the pitch. I just want to say thanks to the fans and everyone at the club.
“I am just trying to give everything for them. This is my first big injury since I was a footballer. It is a fantastic feeling to be back.
“It was (traumatic). The most important thing is that I am back playing.”
Palace’s new manager Roy Hodgson spoke post-match about his concern that the 27-year-old could struggle with the game’s high intensity but was satisfied with his contribution as it progressed.
Discussing his readiness to compete in the Premier League, Souare said: “It is step-by-step. I played with the first-team. It is a different level in the Premier League. I played 90 minutes with the Under-23s, 45 minutes with the first team.
“It is working, getting my fitness better. I played the second half and I am very happy to be back. And we are happy for the win.”
Huddersfield produced perhaps their worst performance of the season and manager David Wagner criticised his much-changed team.
The German made nine changes from their previous starting XI and after Bakary Sako’s headed goal they did little to respond.
Wagner said: “To concede from a set-piece always hurts. I’m very angry about the situation before the set-piece, where we were very sloppy in ball possession and passing. We gave the set-piece away too easily.
“That’s why we totally deserved to be ‘back’ in the first half. We were not good enough.”