Former Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says that he is “so pleased” to see Eberechi Eze back on a football pitch again after the Greenwich-born playmaker suffered an Achilles injury towards the end of his reign.
Hodgson spent four seasons at Selhurst Park as manager before stepping aside at the end of last season, with Patrick Vieira replacing the 74-year-old in the summer.
Eze signed for Palace under Hodgson, scoring four goals and recording six assists in his debut campaign under the former England manager.
The now 23-year-old picked up an Achilles injury prior to the penultimate game of last season.
Eze made a hat-trick of starts in the Premier League for the first time this season in the 1-0 win against Hodgson’s Watford.
“He’s worked very, very hard to get fit. To see him back and playing to his best, that’s something which obviously gives me a lot of satisfaction – I’m so pleased for him,” said Hodgson of Eze.
“But it was very nice to see so many of these players who I have worked with and spent so many good moments with.
“I was a bit concerned that they [Palace] would overrun us in our situation, and them in the situation they are in with a lot of momentum, that we [Watford] would be going away from here somewhat embarrassed by the result.
“I must say, I don’t think that anyone would suggest that we should be embarrassed by the result today.”
Hodgson received a warm welcome from the Palace faithful and was given a standing ovation once the full-time whistle was blown.
Hodgson joined Watford in late January but has been unable to guide the club to safety – suffering his first relegation in the Premier League.
“No, not at all. When you leave a club, and you move on, it’s all about the people who are at the club and doing the job for the club today,” explained Hodgson when asked if he expected the reception from the Palace fans.
“Someone who has done a job for the club in the past does not have any right to expect any recognition for their past work.
“I was absolutely delighted to receive it. I can’t thank the Selhurst Park crowd enough, nor can I praise them enough for the incredible job that they do in supporting their team.
“There is no doubt that playing here at Selhurst Park, with that crowd behind you, gives your performance an enormous boost.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD