Eagles striker urges non-league players to keep faith they can reach top
RECORD signing Dwight Gayle hopes to be an inspiration to non-league players after scoring his first Premier League goal as Crystal Palace romped to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday.
Gayle was released by Arsenal as a youngster but has had a meteoric rise through the football pyramid in the last three years.
He only turned professional last summer when he was signed by Dagenham & Redbridge after scoring 57 league goals for Stanstead in the Essex Senior League and 42 goals for Bishop’s Stortford in the Conference North.
Gayle continued to score goals at the Daggers and was soon moving up to the Championship, this time with Peterborough United and the goals didn’t stop.
And now a year after making his league debut, he is mixing it in the big time with Palace.
But the 23-year-old puts his rise more down to luck than anything and has urged players plying their trade in the non-leagues to keep hold of their dreams.
He explained: “It’s down to a lot of luck to be honest.
“Obviously there are a lot of good players playing non-league and if some of them are given a chance, a few more could make the step up.
“I am lucky I’ve been given that chance.
“If you are enjoying it, there’s always a chance that you can bounce back into it and I think I am testament to that so people should never give up.”
Like his journey through the leagues, Gayle’s first Premier League goal showed great character.
After being felled in the box by John O’Shea in the 79th minute, Gayle showed no fear by taking the responsibility on his own shoulders to dispatch the penalty himself and set the Eagles on their way to a crucial first win of the season.
He said: “I’m delighted to get my first goal for Palace.
“I was really nervous, but thankfully it went in and capped off a great team performance.
“The first game passed me by a little bit because the fitness was a lot different.
“But I think now I know what I need to be doing and can improve and hopefully the team can get some more wins.”
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