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Interviews

INTERVIEW: It was a great feeling

John-Kymani Gordon on a '100% dream debut'

17 January 2023

Interviews

INTERVIEW: It was a great feeling

John-Kymani Gordon on a '100% dream debut'

17 January 2023

If there is such a thing as a dream debut then that’s exactly what it was for Palace forward John-Kymani Gordon who, just 24-hours after signing for his new club started the game against Newport, scored, and picked up the man of the match award for good measure.

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Still only 19, he’s set off on the right foot at his new club with a left-footed finish that made the points certain against Newport County on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s 100% a dream debut and it’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I knew from the start of the game that the main thing to do for me was for the team to win and for me to score a goal.

“I was just hoping for a chance to get the ball at my feet and get an opportunity to go one v one with the defender, and I knew I would score. The chance finally came and I took it.

“As soon as Denno passed it to me I knew I was going to score. The game was tough and the conditions were tough, it was very windy so there weren’t many moments in the whole game where I got the ball to feet.

“I knew if I got it to my feet under control I would cause trouble. When I got it I had a look up and saw the defender but I knew I was going to score, that kind of situation is something I’ve been working on a lot during the whole season.”

So, what did it feel like when it hit the back of the net.

“It was a great feeling,” he confirmed. “I looked back at the goal and I’m used to cutting in and shooting on my right foot, but I think it’s important to not be too predictable as a winger and always use the same foot.

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“It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever jumped into the crowd after I’ve scored a goal! I got loads of messages after the game about my celebration but I was just in the moment and I did what felt right.

“I’ve never scored a goal in front of that many fans, and it was obviously my debut so I was just over the moon. That’s why I just ended up in with the fans. It felt really good.”

With it being his first loan move away from his boyhood club, he admitted that it had been a whirlwind of a few days leading up to the game.

“Before coming up here I was a bit wary because it’s my first loan and it’s obviously far away from London, but I’ve loved every single minute of it already,” he insisted. “I thought I would be itching to get back home on all of our days off, but I stayed up after the game because I already feel really comfortable here.

“The rest of the boys have been so welcoming and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates. I think the goal and the whole performance from the team showed why we’re doing so well, and I already love it here.

“I came in on Friday morning to do my medical before we trained and when I was in the manager’s office he had a space left on his whiteboard in the starting team.

“I noticed it but didn’t say anything, but then he told me the space was for me and I would be starting on Saturday. I was nervous, I’ve seen the reaction from the fans on social media and how happy they are to have me here, so I wanted to prove myself and prove that I’m good enough to play here and help the team get this promotion.

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“I was just thinking about it the whole of Friday night because I wanted it to go well and thankfully it did. I was speaking to my friends on the PlayStation and I spoke to my mum and dad about me starting, it was just crazy.

“They were shocked that I was going straight into the team but they were happy because they all believe in me.”

“Just before the game I was nervous, but I was also thinking to myself, I need to score, because what a debut that would be if I did score,” he added. “I remember the lads all speaking to me saying just be confident, go out there and do your thing.

“Then walking out from the tunnel was amazing, walking out to the fans, I heard them cheering my name as well, it just gave me confidence. It’s not something I’m used to. It felt amazing, really.”

Talking more about why he made the move north, he said: “Carlisle was the first club to show interest in me. I feel like that’s a big thing. It just shows genuine interest in me.

“I also spoke to Paul on the phone and met up with him, and I could just tell the interest was genuine, I could tell he wanted to help me. I could tell he was really interested in me coming here.

“On top of that, I felt it was the best decision to get game time also. When you look at the position we’re in, challenging for promotion, I felt it was a great opportunity also. 

“I was with the first team before I left Palace, which I was enjoying, and it’s probably why it took a little while for me to come here, because I was on the bench.

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“I wanted a new challenge, and I said I wanted to get out of my comfort zone because I’ve been at Palace for 11 years. I’ve always lived close to the stadium and the training ground, so everything has been really comfortable.

“I wanted a new experience and I wanted to move out of London, so I’ve definitely ticked that box by coming up here! You never know what can happen in football so I wanted something totally new which is a good chance for me to learn new things and mature as a person.”

The time with the Palace senior group can only ever be a huge benefit, but being out there when it matters is a feeling all footballers enjoy.

“It’s a big difference from academy football,” he confirmed. “I think the main thing is the physicality and you have to make quicker decisions because the tempo is faster.

“Obviously the fans make a huge difference as well, at U21s you don’t get many fans and it plays a big part in your game. When you do something good and they get behind you it gives you more confidence, that was a big difference I noticed on Saturday.

“And knowing it’s for three points does give it an extra edge and adds a bit of fire in the belly. I think that will only get more and more because if we keep playing like we are I know we can definitely get that promotion.

“Palace have told me that they just wanted me to come here and be confident and get goals to help the team. They want me to go back a better person and a better player.

“The quality of the players I’ve been training with down there is obviously very high. They’re players I used to watch on TV or play with on Fifa, then it gets to the point where you’re training with them, which is crazy and a bit surreal.

“They’ll sometimes do something in training and you just watch it and think ‘wow’. I’ve been with them for a while so I got used to training with them and it became normal in a way, and all the lads there are top and they all made me feel really welcome when I was in and around the squad.

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“Jairo Riedewald is the one I speak to mostly but they’re all really good players and I speak to them all.

“Patrick Vieira is brilliant as well. It’s crazy, especially when you build a relationship with him, and he takes you under his wing and speaks to you about how to improve your game. I remember him telling me at the start of December I was going to be with him for the next six weeks.

“Even hearing that I was happy because I knew I would improve so much, also I knew he trusted me to train with the first team. It’s not easy, the tempo is high there, with the quality of players. For him to trust you to train there, it shows a lot.

“He’s also given me good feedback to say I’ve trained well, or mentioned things I’ve done well. Especially coming from him is amazing, really, to build your confidence.”

Back up to Cumbrian matters and we wondered what role he’d been given by the manager for the Newport game.

“The gaffer told me to just get out there and enjoy it,” he revealed. “He’s obviously watched me play so he knows what I’m capable of.

“For the second half he told me to stay a bit wider so I could get the ball to feet, thankfully I did that and that’s where the goal came from. He knows what areas I’m dangerous in so he just wanted me in those areas as much as possible.

“When I was coming off the pitch I was trying to hold in my smile and keep it calm, but I don’t think I did. I couldn’t hold it in, I was smiling so much. It all just felt crazy and so different to what I’m used to. I looked up and saw all the fans clapping, which is just really different.

“That’s one goal so far, and I do have a target which I’ll hopefully reach, but I’m not sure I can score in every single game!”

 


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