July 14 2008
Few Crystal Palace players can be regarded as legends. As part of our Dougie Freedman Week, Gordon Law says the Doug fits the bill.
Freedman is best known for getting the winnner against Stockport that stopped Palace from sliding into the old Second Division in 2001.
On the final day in a must-win game at Edgeley Park, there were just three minutes remaining before Freedman jinked past two defenders and curled home an unstoppable shot to send the fans into raptures.
That goal firmly put the Scotsman into Crystal Palace folklore but he will be remembered for much more during his 10-year association with the Eagles.
Signed in 1995 from Barnet, Freedman made an instant impact at his new club by scoring 20 goals in his maiden season at Selhurst Park. Palace finished third in the old Division One but lost out in the play-offs.
The following year he netted 14 goals including two wonderful strikes as a late sub against Wolves in the play-off semi-final first leg which gave Palace a 3-1 win. Although he sat out the play-off final triumph over Sheffield United, Freedman fast became the darling of Selhurst Park.
He broke fans' hearts when he decided to leave for Wolves a few months later and a year afterwards, he moved to Nottingham Forest where he spent two seasons.
The Glasgow-born striker wasn't enjoying his football in the Midlands, so when Eagles manager Alan Smith offered to bring him back to London in 2000, Freedman jumped at the opportunity.
As Palace slipped into the relegation mire, it was the Doug's brace against Portsmouth in the penultimate game of the season that gave Palace the chance to escape the drop at Stockport on the last day. Many people argue his match-winner against Stockport was the biggest goal in Palace's history.
Freedman began to enjoy the greatest form in his career and wowed the Palace faithful with his guile, creativity and crucial goals which mainly consisted of spectacular shots, volleys and chips.
Despite scoring on his international debut, a fall-out with Scotland manager Berti Vogts and the fact he spent most of his career in London robbed Freedman of winning more than two caps for his country.
Nevertheless, he has always been loved by those in SE25 and the fans voted him Player of the Year in 2002. He was also voted in the PFA Division One Team of the Season.
Over the next few years Freedman continued to find the back of the net - his 13 goals were crucial in Palace's promotion to the Premier League in 2004 - but was later overlooked by some Palace managers.
Ever the professional, Freedman never complained and worked hard to win his place back in the side, often popping up off the bench to grab important goals.
He gave Palace a lifeline when he scored against Charlton on the final day of the 2004/05 campaign as the Eagles drew 2-2 but were relegated. Ironically, his 100th goal in a Palace shirt came against the old enemy Brighton in a thrilling 3-2 victory the following season.
A total gent off the field, Freedman maintained his loyalty and always proved the managers who doubted him they were wrong to leave him out of the side. Most fans would agree the Doug still has an important role to play in the side with few players having the skill to unlock a defence like he can.
He's sixth on the all-time Palace scorers' list with 108 goals and fifth in the all-time appearances chart with 368 games.
The supporters are grateful to a man who has given them so many memories during his 10 years at the club and will no doubt honour one of Palace's finest players in his well-deserved testimonial against Fulham on July 29. Make sure you are there to honour the Doug!
In Depth Palace heroes
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