Bolasie living the dream

He realised a dream when he scored in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, but Yannick Bolasie is hoping for further glory when Crystal Palace take on Manchester United in the final on Saturday.

Born in Lyon, France, to parents from the DR Congo, Bolasie and his family moved to London when he was only a few months old and he grew up a stone's throw away from Wembley Stadium.
He returned to the hallowed turf in April to score the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Watford, but he hopes to "express" himself again when Palace face the Red Devils in a repeat of the 1990 FA Cup final.

"The journey I’ve personally taken over the past four years with Palace, it’s a dream come true," he told the Guardian. 

"Scoring early in the semi-final did a lot for me personally. Now I am just looking forward to playing in the final and expressing myself, enjoying myself and showing the world what I can do."

The 26-year-old's mother, Yolande, and siblings still lives in the same estate and he knows the area and the way he grew up shaped the person he is today.

"I go back a lot, my brothers are still there and she does a lot of cooking for me. To try to get a coach doesn’t make sense, Willesden to Wembley. You can’t do that really," he said.

He added: "The way I’ve grown up, the manner I am today, reflects on my mother. I’ve seen other people grow up and not have respect for human beings. 

"But even though I play football, I’m still able to talk to everyone on the estate. Whenever I go, I can literally talk to anyone that I meet and everyone I have known from my past. It is normal, I casually get on with it."

Bolasie joined Palace from Bristol City in 2012 and he has been living a dream ever since, but now he hopes he can be part of the Eagles team that makes history by winning the club's first-ever FA Cup.

"Palace offered me the opportunity to come and play and I took it with both hands," he said. "For me, at the time [of signing in 2012], I didn’t care about what money I was getting or whatever it was going on. 

"I just wanted to play football because I knew playing games would make me improve, and I think looking back at my career at Palace every year I’ve always improved and improved and added a lot more things to my game."