The English Press Still Deride Zaha But They Should Celebrate Him

0 Posted by - July 30, 2017 - News, Video

In the seven years since Wilfried Zaha made his professional debut for Crystal Palace, he's faced his fair share of doubters but just like all the best sportsmen, he's always found a way to silence his critics when the heat is truly on.

This video should be shown to anyone who doubts Zaha's immense talent. He should be celebrated in England.

To those who watched him score his first goal for the Eagles in August of 2010, (complete with a pair of comedically oversized shorts) his journey has been one of triumph in the face of adversity but to plenty outside of the Crystal Palace bubble, Zaha is a player who provokes disdain, often for reasons far beyond his own personal control.

It took Wilf little more than three years to graduate from the new kid on the block to a star worthy of attention from those at the very top of the game. Earning a move to Manchester United, becoming Sir Alex Ferguson's last ever signing as Reds boss in the process, both he and Palace's fan-base could have been forgiven for assuming he was set for life.

After going out in a blaze of glory by helping Palace reach the Premier League via promotion in the play-offs, Wilfried arrived at Old Trafford bright eyed and bushy tailed, only to be met by a manager in David Moyes who flatly refused to give him the chance he had earned.

Perhaps the former Everton gaffer was struggling with the enormity of the job on his hands, failing to think clearly about the talent he had at his disposal in Zaha but the preferential treatment Moyes gave to Adnan Januzaj, coupled with disgraceful lies relating to Wilfried and Moyes' daughter, saw him looked upon as an unprofessional chancer rather than a supreme talent. Predictably it hit him for six.

A loan move to Cardiff was agreed the following season but after the emotional battering he'd been taking in the North West, Zaha was in need of TLC rather than a battle to prove himself all over again. It seems so obvious now but the deal which eventually saw Wilfried return to Selhurst Park, first on loan and then permanently soon after, was the only move which would guarantee him getting back to his best and retreading a path which would see him leave even his biggest critics with egg on their faces.

Under the guidance of Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce and now Frank de Boer, Zaha has shown the world that he's more than capable of mixing it with the cream of the crop in the Premier League. Routinely kicked, merely as a consequence of being too good for the defenders tasked with stopping him, he has had a few hurdles to leap over since coming home but in all honesty, his trajectory has been on an almost constant upward curve since stepping back into the club's Beckenham training base.

Wilfried himself has happily given Alan Pardew a great deal of credit for advancing his game during the time he spent in charge at Selhurst Park but as a fan who has watched his every move in recent years, I can honestly say that he appears to have gained different attributes from each of his Palace bosses. Despite often being labelled as a "difficult" character by those who are happy to believe what they read in the press, you won't hear a bad word said about Zaha from any of the men who've managed him in SE25, proving that, regardless of the gargantuan PR machine that operates around Manchester United, certain players can overcome "failure" at The Theatre of Dreams and still go on to be considered legends by fans of other clubs.

The last year or so has seen Wilfried's "end product" go up a notch or three, with goals and assists coming at a rapid rate and with that, the rough treatment handed out to him by defenders has also risen dramatically, not that many in the press seem particularly keen to acknowledge it, preferring instead to defer to age-old inaccurate stereotypes about his character in the pursuit of "humour" with John Cross from The Mirror being the latest high-profile name to spew bile in Wilf's direction.

As recently as last weekend, Zaha was subjected to racist abuse from "fans" of other clubs via his Instagram account, simply for being extremely good at his job. It's an issue I'm sure he's dealt with privately on many occasions previously but in this particular instance, he was quite right to make the existence of the messages public, drawing attention to the ridiculous lengths people will go to to bring an elite athlete down to their grubby little level.

Wilf is no stranger to apathy, having worked extremely hard to impress England's coaches for the first six years of his professional career only to them be subjected to an incredible level of criticism from all corners for deciding to represent the country of his birth at international level instead. Looked at in isolation is seems ridiculous but when you bundle it all together with other issues Zaha has been forced to overcome in his still young career, it's no wonder he, his coaches and Palace's fans feel as though he's capable of beating anyone that stands in his way as the 2017-18 season approaches.

Many are happy to be spoon-fed lies about Wilfried both on and off the field, but the next time they hear a member of the media write him off as a show-pony, perhaps his numerous armchair critics should take a second or two to remember how much the winger has already achieved in the game at the age of 24.

The man is a superstar.

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  • Chris July 30, 2017 - 7:51 am Reply

    Great peice. I think you have captured the feelings of all palace fans who had the privledge of watching Zaha develop.


  • Chris July 30, 2017 - 7:52 am Reply

    Great peice. I think you have captured the feelings of all palace fans who have had the privledge of watching Zaha develop.


    • admin July 30, 2017 - 7:54 am Reply

      Haha! There is no one, Chris!

  • Nye Roberts July 30, 2017 - 9:28 am Reply

    Fantastically written piece. It pretty much paraphrases what I tell my friends every time we discuss football. I find myself defending Wilf at every given opportunity only to be told that I’m seeing him “through red and blue tinted glasses”. Apart from the Hazards of the Premier league, we have one of the most talented wingers on our books and the more he is undervalued and underrated, all the better for us!

    • admin July 30, 2017 - 9:33 am Reply

      Thanks very much, Nye. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Luckily, Wilf knows what he’s got in terms of the bond with the fans.

  • Tom July 30, 2017 - 11:31 am Reply

    Fantastic piece

    • admin July 30, 2017 - 11:33 am Reply

      Thanks so much, Tom. That means the world.

  • Richard C July 30, 2017 - 9:19 pm Reply

    Shortly to be England’s biggest regret, someone who can unlock a defence on his own…..Wilf Zaha, or as Andy Gray would say, ‘magnificent, tik a bo son’

  • Marty August 3, 2017 - 9:55 am Reply

    I think he’s completely shrugged it all off now. As a teenager and young man you want to constantly impress and get approval from everyone. Now he thinks about himself. Plays for his country of birth meaning he’ll be at World Cups and signing a 5 year deal with the club he knows loves him and appreciates him. This is getting him to higher and higher levels. Great piece

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