CRYSTAL Palace striker Dwight Gayle has thanked former manager John Still for taking a chance on him, following his first season in the Premier League with the Eagles.
The 23-year-old was turning out for Dagenham & Redbridge just two years ago, but after scoring seven goals in his debut season in the top flight, Gayle has looked back on a remarkable few years in his footballing career, during which he played for non-league Stansted before moving to the Daggers in 2011.
After impressing in east London via a loan switch to Bishop's Stortford, Peterborough United came calling in 2012, also initially on loan, before making it permanent at the start of last year.
After a big-money move to Palace last summer, he has ended the season on a high with four goals in the final two games of the season.
"It's very surreal to rise up the leagues," said Gayle.
"It's just fantastic, I am just pleased. John Still took a chance on me at Dagenham & Redbridge and I am just happy with that.
"He helped to improve my game and luckily I can thank him and prove myself in the Premier League.
"I still look out for Dagenham's results and I talk to all the boys there.
"I really want them to do well, they've had a good season and next season they can push on and get into the play-offs and get promoted."
Gayle has also praised the current manager at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium, Wayne Burnett.
Gayle said: "I haven't been able to speak to Wayne as much as I have wanted to, he's been very busy becoming the manager but he's done a very good first season. He's a good coach."