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Eddie McGoldrick is back at his Palace home
When Eddie McGoldrick left Crystal Palace to sign for Arsenal 20 years ago it was with a heavy heart.
The Irish international was part of the Eagles squad that made the FA Cup final in 1990 and finished third in the old First Division in 1991 before leaving two years later when the club was relegated and needed money.
But now, two decades later, he has returned to south London and is heavily involved in the Study Centre at Crystal Palace Football Club and is even pulling on the red and blue shirt once more this Friday when Palace supporters take on Brighton fans in the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund match at the Dripping Pan in Lewes.
It was one of three Palace-related fund-raising events he is involved in in three days. On Thursday, he will be one of a number of Palace legends appearing at the Palace Old Guard night at Selhurst Park to raise funds for Geoff Thomas's Leukaemia and Lymphona Research charity, and on Saturday he is holding a question and answer session in the White Horse pub in Selhurst Road raising money for the Study Centre.
"Palace was where it all started for me," said the 47-year-old.
"It was five really good seasons with ups and downs and it was such a family club with good players and good staff that made you feel part of it.
"When I was at the Barnsley game recently, people talked to me about that goal at Blackburn in the first leg of the 1989 play-off final or the ball I put in for Ian Wright to score the winner in the second leg and secure promotion.
"Palace fans are so passionate and remember that stuff and that is what makes Palace fans so special.
"If we hadn't gone down, I would have probably seen out my career at Palace but the club accepted a bid and needed money.
"You move on as players but what doesn't move on is the place you hold in your heart for Palace."
Such is the pull of Palace, the 47-year-old is back involved with the club through the Study Centre after being put in touch with its manager Susan Biggs by Palace fan Andy Burton.
"The Study Centre is a different avenue in my life compared to football and coaching. It's involving education and Susan is doing a great job," added McGoldrick.
"Students go there from throughout the community and it gives them the opportunity to raise their attainment levels and bring them out of their shell.
"It is a fantastic facility and something we are trying to create a lot of awareness for and raise the profile. It is charity based so all the help we can get from businesses and the Crystal Palace family is much appreciated.
"The Study Centre is like a museum based around Palace. It has pictures going back decades of all the great Palace teams and it really helps children relate to the football club where they are learning. It's hopefully creating the next generation of Palace supporters."
As for the match this Friday, in memory of Brighton fan Robert Eaton who was killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, McGoldrick, who will be playing alongside fellow ex-Palace player Simon Osborn, has warned Palace fans not to expect a repeat of his flying winger antics.
"I just got back from the gym as I thought I better get a little bit of work in," he joked.
"I am not too sure what the Palace fans are expecting. It probably won't be the Eddie McGoldrick of the early 1990s flying down the wing delivering crosses. Maybe I will find myself a little pocket in behind the strikers and dictate the play though I will probably need a crane to get me out of bed on Saturday morning.
"But it is for a great cause and it is testament to both sets of supporters that they can put aside their differences for one night."
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