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October 29 2020 2.12am

Shipps reaches promised land

June 2 2004

Neil Shipperley

Neil Shipperley

Palace match-winner Neil Shipperley says his side cannot wait to test themselves against the superstars of the Premiership, by Joseph O'Shea.

Shipperley tapped home the 62nd minute winner, and after a lengthy post-match celebration with Palace's 31,000 fans, immediately turned his thoughts to facing the likes of Thierry Henry, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Damian Duff next season.

He said: "I think the Premiership is getting tougher every year. The competition is between massive clubs with a massive amount of money being pumped in, which is going to attract superstars. Testing yourself at the highest level is what you want to do as a person and a player."

The Palace skipper has played in the Premiership with Chelsea, Southampton, Palace and Nottingham Forest, and expects his play-off winners to be among the favourites to drop straight back down again.

He said: "It's natural that people will say we'll go down. A lot of teams that go up come straight down, so that'll be our main task, surviving. But we are going to test ourselves against the superstars of the Premiership."

Palace have become the first club to play in the Premiership on four separate occasions and will look to become only the fourth promoted play-off club to beat the drop since 1994.

He said: "It's been six years since this club's been in the Premiership and the club's got a bit of a 'yoyo' tag, but it's the summer now where the chairman and manager will sit down and make plans. It's a problem we'll look forward to. When you are in the First Division the aim is to get out and it took six years so we shall enjoy it that's for sure."

Having endured an 18 game barren spell earlier this season as Steve Kember's side slumped towards the relegation zone, it is fitting that Shipperley should reach his coveted target of double figures (although he is still claiming Gray's goal at Rotherham for 11) and win the showpiece final in one foul swoop.

He said: "I knew AJ was going to try and shoot and I just followed it in. I might do that 50 more times and it might not happen but today it all worked out.

"I have scored easier goals but that is definitely the most important goal of my career."

"We are up, we are promoted, and it's been a hell of a day. We have stayed out there milking it and you have got to. These days are fantastic, you have plenty of lows as a footballer and as a team and this is a great moment you have got to enjoy it.

"We got 30,000 of our fans, it's their day and the whole season revolves on the game, so to see them after the game celebrating is great."

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