Wilfried Zaha thrived the last time he appeared in a Crystal Palace shirt at Wembley, and now, just days after securing another trip there in the FA Cup, he’s dreaming of creating another happy memory.
This interview with Palace’s wing wizard highlights the deep-rooted love he feels for the football club he has grown up with. Few people deserve the impending trip to Wembley as much as him and he’s determined to enjoy every second of it.
The winger may have spent a year or two away from Selhurst Park during his ill-fated stint at Manchester United, but after returning to the club at the start of last season, the 23-year-old has proven himself to be more than capable of tormenting Premier League full-backs from week to week.
After powering his way into the hearts of Crystal Palace fans with a stunning display in what was the first league game under the ownership of CPFC2010, his flicks and tricks are now indelibly linked to the legacy that Steve Parish and his fellow directors are in the process of building.
Whilst many of our supporters still view Wilfried as a young and unpredictable talent, he has now racked up well over 200 appearances in red and blue; a haul that has seen his general play improve hugely since he first broke into the first-team under George Burley. It has been a transformation which has provoked plenty of people from both inside and outside the club to talk about a possible England recall for this summer’s European Championships, not that Zaha himself is getting too carried away.
His persona now is one of a deeply focused professional who maintains a childlike adoration for the game which pays his bills. The flashes of anger and now far fewer and further between than they were in his early days, but Zaha’s game still revolves around a love of the spectacular. He will always have plenty of detractors, but for those who are given the privilege of watching him from week to week are only growing more appreciative of his talents as each games passes.
His words in the interview above give the impression of a player who is desperate to drag his teammates with him towards success in any way possible. Never content to do things functionally, it is Wilf’s desire to thrill which has made him such a fan favourite at Selhurst Park.
Having had the decisive last word on our previous meeting with Watford at Wembley, he’ll be desperate to replicate his performance when we head off to the world-famous arch in April. I certainly wouldn’t want to bet against him.