Joel Ward’s childhood club have revealed their pride after he became a Premier League player.
Former Pompey favourite Ward spent his formative years in the game turning out for local outfit East Lodge.
And his former coach looked on with delight as Ward celebrated with his Crystal Palace team-mates following their 1-0 Championship play-off final victory over Watford.
Ward played a key role in protecting his side’s lead after Kevin Phillips put Ian Holloway’s side in front from the penalty spot in extra-time.
The Emsworth talent made some crucial blocks, before making a critical goal-line clearance at the death to ensure Palace’s place in the top flight.
East Lodge chairman Dave Hill coached Ward in his days at the club.
He told of his delight at seeing the defender gain promotion to the Premier League a year after leaving Pompey for Selhurst Park.
Hill expects Ward, who returned to East Lodge last year to hand out awards at the club’s fun day, to stay as grounded as ever after his latest success.
And the chairman is looking forward to seeing him go up against another one of the players to emerge from the club’s production line – Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse – next season.
Hill said: ‘It was good seeing Joel pick up the cup and screaming his head off!
‘James Ward-Prowse is also one of ours. It will be good to see them play each other next season.
‘Joel stayed with us for quite a long time before going to Pompey. He trained hard and was a polite young boy.
‘Joel came to our fun day last year and gave out awards.
‘There was a real buzz that he made the effort. He stayed longer than he should have and had time for everyone.
‘We’re proud of Joel, as we are of all of our players.’
n Watch Joel Ward interview at portsmouth.co.uk