Joel Edward Philip Ward (born 29 October 1989) is an English footballer who plays as a defender for Premier League club Crystal Palace. His natural position is right-back but he can also play at centre-back, and in midfield.
Ward started his footballing career with local youth team East Lodge F.C. and signed a professional contract with Portsmouth in July 2008 after spending two years in the Academy and Reserves.
The following month, he signed a one-year loan deal with Bournemouth to gain first team experience. Ward soon made his debut in a League Cup match against Cardiff City on 12 August, playing the full 90 minutes as Cardiff ran out 2–1 winners. His League Two debut came later that week on 16 August 2008 in an away draw with Aldershot Town. As the season progressed, Ward continued to appear in defence for the Cherries and he gained the first yellow and red cards of his career on 18 October in a 4–1 away defeat to Shrewsbury Town, eventually being sent off for two bookable offences. However, his form meant that he returned to the side soon afterwards, making his Football League Trophy and FA Cup debuts: a home defeat by Colchester United and a home win against Bristol Rovers on 4 and 8 November respectively. He scored his first and only Bournemouth goal in a 4–0 win over Morecambe on 2 May 2009.
Return to Portsmouth
On 26 August 2009, Ward made his Portsmouth debut as a centre-back against Hereford United in the League Cup, before making his Premier League debut on 14 April 2010 against Wigan Athletic, playing from start to finish at left-back as the game finished goalless. Ward played in most of Pompey's remaining league matches that season and remained at Fratton Park in the summer even after they were relegated to the Championship. He began the new season as first-choice right-back, but later lost his starting berth to Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Greg Halford. Ward scored his first Portsmouth goal in a 3–2 defeat to Doncaster Rovers on 13 November 2010.
Starting with their 2–0 away victory over Doncaster Rovers on 12 February 2011, a game in which he scored, Ward played as an attacking midfielder in Portsmouth's new 4-2-3-1 formation and earned praise from manager Steve Cotterill who was quoted as saying: "Joel Ward has got great energy and did well in that role in the centre in midfield in behind the striker." On 18 December 2011, Ward scored the equaliser in the South Coast derby against Southampton which finished 1–1.
On 28 May 2012, Ward completed his move to Crystal Palace for £400,000 on a four-year deal. He made his debut on 14 August 2012, in a 2–1 win against Exeter City in the League Cup. He made his league debut four days later in a home game against Watford. He won promotion with Crystal Palace after clearing a shot off the line during the last minute of injury time against the same opponents in the 2013 Championship play-off final. Ward scored his first goal for Crystal Palace in a 3–1 home win against Queens Park Rangers on 14 March 2015.
On 15 April 2015, Ward signed a new three-and-a-half year contract, keeping him at the Selhurst Park side until the summer of 2018. As of May 2016, Ward currently holds the record for most Premier League appearances for a Crystal Palace player. He reached the hundred milestone in a 1–1 draw away to Arsenal on 17 April 2016.
Former Youth Teams
Former Senior Teams
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