In Week Three one man shown bright above all others and that was Crystal Palace winger, Dwight Gayle.
Gayle’s pace, desire and nose for goal made him a menace for the Sunderland defense this past weekend and in the 78th minute his efforts paid off when John O’Shea brought the 22 year old down from behind for a penalty.
Gayle’s momentum saw him take quite a tumble on O’Shea’s foul but the Arsenal youth product had no problem dusting of his knees and stepping to the spot to take the penalty. With the match knotted at one apiece, it was a big moment.
As Gayle waited for the referee to blow his whistle, Sunderland’s Adam Johnson was “giving [him] a bit of stick” in a bid to ramp up his nerves. It didn’t work as Gayle smashed his effort just below the diving Kieren Westwood to mark the first Premier League goal of his career.
Gayle celebrated the goal with a playful airplane celebration, much to the delight of a raucous Selhurst Park. Four minutes later manager Ian Holloway gave Gayle his bow for a full days work, substituting him off in front of a standing ovation.
Gayle’s story is one to behold. After his release from Arsenal as a teenager he moved to Essex Senior League side Stansted in 2009, where he played two seasons before being scooped up by League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge in 2011.
D&R immediately loaned Gayle out to Bishop’s Stortford in the Conference North where he netted an incredible 42 goals in 55 appearances. He thereafter returned to play for the Daggers where he was soon secured on loan by Championship side Peterborough United where his impressive form, scoring 13 times in 29 appearances, earned him a permanent transfer.
This past July, Palace paid a club record $13 million (£8.5m) to Peterborough for the rights to Gayle and three weeks into the season, it looks to be money well spent.
It’s not often that a player rises from non-league football to the Premier League in a matter of two years. And for that, and his efforts in the victory over Sunderland, Dwight Gayle is the Premier League Player of the Week.