When the news broke last season that we were landing a Chelsea hot-shot from the Premier League, there must have been a few Town fans who muttered pessimistic musings.
Would he understand the culture of the club? Would he be a pampered, 18-year-old whose hunger had been sanitised from a high premature wage packet? Thankfully, after he conducted his first interview with the club, it was clear to see Kasey Palmer did not share the stereotypical character traits of others in his age bracket.
Kasey had made an early name for himself, scoring some outrageous goals in Chelsea’s youth side, a lot of which went viral.
With this being established, Town fans were hugely excited that someone with this much potential and quality would choose a little old club like ours as his first taste of men’s football. Their excitement would be satiated by his very first touch of the ball in the Championship in our 2-1 win over Brentford on the opening day of the season.
After running a great support line for his teammate Rajiv van la Parra who fired a shot at the Brentford keeper, Kasey was on hand to knock in the rebound, sending the home fans into raptures and prompting a touchline run from his manager David Wagner who duly bear-hugged him to give his appreciation there and then. After this goal, we all knew what a special player Palmer was, little did we know how vital he would be to our early season success.
Palmer’s physicality and athletic running style were imperative to the way we implemented our ‘gegenpressen’ football, as Palmer pressed from the front to win the ball back in dangerous positions and hustle and harry, covering every blade of grass possible. From the very beginning, the Terrier identity was personified by Kasey Palmer.
As well as his raw physicality and athleticism, Kasey Palmer’s cute touches (often nutmegs) and footballing intelligence to find space between the lines and link up the play is why I already think that he is a Premier League player and he will only improve when he is plying his trade against the very best.
Whilst Kasey Palmer’s movement on and off the ball is impressive, it was Palmer’s goal-scoring ability which was so crucial in the opening stages of the season as the Chelsea loanee proved that he would be a genuine goal-threat from the number 10 position. Even though, he may not have scored as many goals as he’d have liked, for his first season in men’s football, his 5 goals were still valuable and included several match-winners.
After demonstrating in the first half of the season just how talented he is, it was injury problems that cut Palmer’s season’s short. When Palmer picked up an injury in the 2-1 victory over Leeds United, it curtailed his season by and large. This was despite a brief cameo in the play-off final.
Kasey was clearly short of match fitness having made a miraculous recovery to even be fit for the game in the first place, he would admit himself he didn’t make a substantial impact in the limited time he was on the pitch but he had earned the right to soak in the atmosphere and the adulation from the fans. At the age of 20, Palmer was already writing himself into West Yorkshire folklore.
Despite having a limited impact in the second half of the season, there are no doubts that Kasey Palmer was a major success story for Premier League youth players who are considering going on loan in search of regular first-team football. For Palmer to move temporarily up north to Huddersfield showed a bravery and maturity that went well beyond his years.
What endeared him more to the fans than just his performances on the pitch was the way he conducted himself off it and his growth from a boy to a man. A lot of Premier League teenagers would see their loan clubs as merely stepping stones for their future success but Kasey made a concerted effort to embrace the culture of the club, interacting with fans on social media, attending community events and bringing the club to his personal life as well, with pictures of his young nephews in town kits strengthening his connection between himself and the fans.
Unfairly, many fans expect players of their clubs to be impeccable role models incapable of making mistakes. However, Palmer clearly enjoyed the role he played in providing inspiration to young fans and working hard to prove that success is not born of natural talent alone, it is earned.
With it now being confirmed that Palmer has returned to Town for next season’s dream adventure in the Premier League, every town fan will welcome him back with open arms.
We hope he can recreate the performances he produced last season as well as continuing to show the charismatic, humble and determined personality he brought to the dressing room which made him a fans favourite and a role model for all.