Belfast Telegraph

Bolasie's playing with confidence

Yannick Bolasie has been given a licence to thrill at Crystal Palace - and his unorthodox rise shows no signs of abating.

In just seven years, the winger has gone from non-league Hillingdon Borough to the Premier League, via Malta and a host of Football League clubs.

It has been quite the journey for Bolasie and the upward trajectory looks set to continue, having kicked on impressively at Palace this season.

The 25-year-old winger was the outstanding player in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Tottenham, with his direct style and skills bamboozling defenders at White Hart Lane.

"I try to enjoy the game and the manager has given me a little bit of licence to enjoy myself," Bolasie said afterwards.

"I am also getting help from my team-mates and the positions I am picking up on the pitch are allowing to run at other teams.

"You have to have an end product but credit to the whole team, the likes of Mile Jedinak, Joe Ledley - they are giving me the licence."

So impressive has Bolasie been that Liverpool are reported to be amongst the vultures circling over Selhurst Park.

Palace boss Neil Warnock, who attempted to sign the Democratic Republic of Congo international when at QPR, has warned off potential suitors and the winger says he has no intention of leaving.

"I am happy at Palace," Bolasie said. "It is all about progressing.

"I am improving every week at Palace. I want to make sure I have another good season and keep Palace up.

"If we play like that every week [we will stay up]. Spurs are a top club and if we play like this against teams like Stoke, we will be okay."

Palace were unfortunate to leave White Hart Lane without all three points after such a dominant display.

Bolasie was a constant threat for the visitors and left spectators open-mouthed with an exquisite flick past Christian Eriksen in the first half.

Images of what he describes as "a 360 and a flick" have gone viral online and comes from his unique upbringing, a far cry from statistic-focused modern football.

"I used to do it in the playground at school," Bolasie, inspired by Ronaldinho, said. "It was a trick from back then.

"When you don't do tricks they become unfamiliar but because my confidence is high, I feel I can do anything.

"It is good to express yourself in the Premier League. It will only get tougher as the opposition will look at me and take me even more seriously.

"It is a credit to myself and the hard work I am doing, it is starting to come off."

Spurs could have certainly done with a player of Bolasie's ilk on Saturday, when their performance lacked inspiration and, at the other end, defensive cohesion.

Boos echoed around White Hart Lane at the final whistle and Jan Vertonghen knows it was not good enough.

"Of course it wasn't good enough but I think the Premier League is getting stronger and tighter," the Belgium defender said.

"Everyone thought Chelsea would cruise to the title but they lost as well today. You have teams like West Ham, Southampton, Newcastle, Swansea - they're up there now and they can compete with the bigger teams.

"The [fans are] not wrong, we think we should be winning these games as well and we tried to. But we just have to find a way to beat these teams."

It was the fifth time Spurs have failed to win a league game on home turf this season - not exactly how Vertonghen wanted his 100th match for the club to pan out.

"They just told me, I'm very proud and I hope I can go on a good run of a few good games," Vertonghen said. "I'm very happy and I hope I can play plenty more."

Asked whether he could see himself playing another century of matches for Tottenham, the defender, regularly linked with a move away, said: "Yes, I think so."

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