Eberechi Eze wants to keep improving and helping Crystal Palace after the exciting midfielder scored his first goal of an injury-impacted season in the comeback win at Southampton.
Signed from QPR in 2020 for fee that could reportedly reach £20million, the 23-year-old impressed during his first season at Selhurst Park and was set to be named in England’s provisional European Championship squad.
But Eze found out about his first senior call-up as he returned to the medical room after sustaining a freak Achilles injury in training, ruling him out of the summer tournament and the start of the 2021/22 season.
The midfielder is still getting back to his best and was elated to score his first goal of the season on Saturday, cancelling out Oriol Romeu’s opener before Wilfried Zaha struck at the death to seal a 2-1 win at Southampton.
“It was a big moment,” Eze said. “I’m so grateful to God that the opportunity came and I was able to contribute and help the team.
“It was a huge moment for me, my family and everyone that’s supported me on this journey – because it’s been mad.
“I think it’s been a long season, having to wait for minutes, having to be patient, having to keep working hard. It’s been difficult at times.
“It felt good, I feel like I’m getting back into it. Obviously it’s still going to take time, still needs more matches, more time on the field to get back to myself. But every single moment I’m so grateful.”
Eze is delighted to be part of “a good bunch of people, a good bunch of players” and determined to help Patrick Vieira’s Eagles soar.
“I don’t want to stop here, don’t want to end it here,” he told Palace TV.
“I want to keep going, keep scoring and keep contributing to the team, putting in good performances and, God willing, it gets better and better from here.”
Defeat was another late gut punch in a topsy-turvy season for Southampton, who have a knack of throwing away points under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Saints midfielder Romeu said: “The feeling is a painful one, a painful result, we’re not happy at all.
“We had a good goal to start with and came into this from a good second half at Brighton.
“That was the momentum we wanted to carry on and we started well, but in the second half they managed to get the equaliser.
“We weren’t clever enough to find players in the pockets and create chances.
“They were a little bit more intelligent with the way they attacked, a little more dangerous when they found spaces.
“Anything could’ve happened in the second half, but we didn’t buy enough tickets to win the game, so they ended up punishing us.”