Crystal Palace U23 Player of the Season Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has credited Eberechi Eze and Jairo Riedewald for helping him settle in the first-team environment.
The 19-year-old Southwark-born winger scored 18 goals in 25 appearances for Paddy McCarthy’s side in the Premier League 2 Division 1.
Rak-Sakyi scored a hat-trick against Derby in the final game of the season which ensured the Eagles finished fifth in their first season in the debut campaign in the top-flight of academy football.
“It’s been great,” said Rak-Sakyi of his campaign after picking up the trophy on Tuesday night at the club’s end of season awards.
“The club have been supporting me since I joined, and I have just felt at home. It’s been great to know that everyone is behind me and everyone is pushing me.
“I just want to bring on next season and see where that takes me.
Rak-Sakyi made his professional debut for the South Londoners in the opening day 3-0 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, replacing Jairo Riedewald for the final 13 minutes of the game.
The winger also made the bench in the Premier League against Brighton and in the FA Cup against Millwall and Stoke City.
“It was crazy. I didn’t really expect to be coming on, but when I did, I was ready. I was just happy for every minute that I was on the pitch.
“I have been training a lot and working hard a lot – I just want to keep pushing on, working hard, and see what happens.”
Despite League One clubs Accrington Stanley and Milton Keynes showing interest in the winter window to take the Palace academy graduate on loan for the rest of the season, Vieira chose to keep Rak-Sakyi so he could continue to train with the first team.
“He [Vieira] is a great manager. I would say that he really trusts the youth. It just shows that if we work hard and we just put in the work in training and games, then there are opportunities here.
“I have just got to work hard, keep training hard, and hopefully I will get more minutes.
“All of them have been really great [to help me settle], but I would say that Jairo and Ebs have been really looking after me a lot. Jairo is a great player – I don’t think a lot of people realise the hard work that he puts in during training.
“For him to look after all the young boys who come up [from the academy] just shows what a cool guy he is.”
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