Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has taken to Instagram to hit back at claims of diving, suggesting that people won’t be happy until he’s had his leg broken by an overly aggressive opponent.
The 25-year-old had the last laugh over Watford fans on Tuesday night, popping up in the 88th and 91st minute to contribute towards both of the Eagles’ goals but regardless of his obvious talent, the tag of a “diver” is one which understandably frustrates him.
Last Saturday, at home to Bournemouth, Wilfried won two penalties for his side, provoking Eddie Howe and a variety of talking heads within the game to raise the prospect of retrospective action being taken. When, on Monday afternoon, the FA panel specifically set up to rule over such matters concluded that Zaha wasn’t guilty of deception in either case, certain people’s disappointment was clear to see.
As any regular watcher of Wilfried and Palace will know, his “reputation” has stopped officials from giving penalties and free-kicks in the most blatant of circumstances for years now, with those in the press regurgitating the same baseless smears despite evidence to the contrary.
In the article attached above, there are direct quotes from former Premier League referee Mark Halsey claiming that the Ivory Coast international dived against the Cherries, despite the fact that he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the FA themselves. We shouldn’t allow things like this to go unnoticed, given the impact it has on the mindset of any neutral onlooker from week to week.
As the old saying goes – “if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it” not that it seems at all fair on Wilfried and his Palace teammates. Having shown just how talented he is against the Hornets in midweek, it does frustrate me to see him being painted as nothing more than a cheat by certain individuals. Obviously, those few misguided souls don’t speak for the majority and certainly don’t represent Palace’s fan-base but still, he’s earned the right to be respected in all corners of the game.
I don’t wish to speak for him but I do often feel as though he relishes the “us against them” mentality that playing for Palace inspires in its players. He knows better than most how quick people are to write us off and seems to enjoy proving people wrong when the stakes are at their highest.
In this instance, I am 100% behind each and every word he’s said on the matter. Those outside of the Palace bubble may look to bring him down but he knows that it’s simply a consequence of his immense talent.