JOEL WARD is set to walk out at the home of football today in the FA Cup final.
The former Pompey man and Academy graduate is expected to start for Crystal Palace against Manchester United. Here’s 10 facts about the defender.
- Ward is now Crystal Palace’s record appearance holder in the Premier League. He played his 100th Premier League game in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal last month.
- Ward was born in Emsworth – just over eight miles from Fratton Park.
- He is a devout Christian and grew up at the New Life Christian Centre in his home town.
- Ward played for local youth outfit East Lodge as a youngster, but could only turn out once a month from the age of eight to 16 because he attended a church service on a Sunday morning.
- The 26-year-old will be remembered by Pompey fans for his equalising goal in the south coast derby against Southampton in 2011. He was also on the scoresheet against them in Palace’s 2-1 FA Cup win at St Mary’s in January.
- Ward had to wait 98 games to score his first goal for Palace, coming in a 3-1 win over QPR.
- The defender has kneeled on the side of the pitch to pray before every professional game in his career.
- Ward is set to start in his first FA Cup final for Palace today - but travelled to both the 2008 and 2010 finals with Pompey, although he failed to make the squad on either occasion.
- The Pompey trainee has enjoyed previous Wembley success - helping Palace to promotion by clearing a shot off the line in the last minute of their Championship play-off win over Watford in 2013.
- Ward’s Premier League debut came in Pompey colours at Wigan in 2010. He started the game with fellow youngster Matt Ritchie. Lenny Sowah also appeared in the 0-0 draw at the JJB Stadium.