DANNY Gabbidon today woke with tired eyes but in a great mood after completing a remarkable career renaissance with a return to the Premier League.
The Cwmbran defender was one of a host of Crystal Palace players who partied until 6am following their surprise play-off success against Gianfranco Zola’s much fancied Watford at Wembley on Monday.
It means Gabbidon, plus his compatriots Jonathan Williams and Caerphilly’s Darcy Blake, can now pencil in dates at Old Trafford and Anfield rather than Oakwell or Pride Park.
Gabbidon played a starring role in Palace’s 1-0 win after extra time, producing several tackles and blocks as he rolled back the years.
The 34-year old joined Palace as a free agent last summer after Mark Hughes released him from Queens Park Rangers, but Gabbidon will now swap places with his former side who drop into the Championship.
And the former Cardiff and West Ham man admits his year has been something of a fairytale with many expecting Palace to finish nearer the bottom than the top this term.
“Winning a final at Wembley is the best way to get promoted,” he said.
“It means the world to us, and for me personally it’s incredibly special, something maybe I didn’t expect.”
Gabbidon paid tribute to departing Eagle Wilfred Zaha, who will join Man-chester United this summer in a deal arranged back in January.
“He’s been here a long time and owes the club a lot,” Gabbidon said.
“He was emotional after the game, now he’s moving on to play for one of the best teams in the world and I’m really pleased for him, it’s a fairytale ending.”
Gabbidon remains one of the most popular players in the Wales camp and several of his teammates took to Twitter to congratulate the former Gwent Schoolboy.
“Congratulations on getting his team promoted to the Premier League, Danny Gabbidon. Very proud of this guy,” striker Robert Earn-shaw wrote.