Last weekend’s clash between Huddersfield and Crystal Palace never had the feel of a game that would excite neutrals but thanks to Wilfried Zaha, we were blessed with a moment of sheer brilliance worthy of winning any contest.
Having been targeted for rough treatment during both of last season’s meetings with Huddersfield, Zaha took up the inevitable role of a pantomime villain at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, getting booed whenever he touched the ball by the home crowd. Unfortunately for them, such things tend to light a fire under the Palace academy graduate, often resulting in moments of magic just like the one attached above.
If we allow ourselves to forget the dreadful challenge put in on him by Huddersfield’s Mathias Jørgensen, the shocker Étienne Capoue made at Watford three weeks ago and the hundreds of others he’s ridden throughout his eight-year career, it seems as though the Huddersfield faithful were on intent on booing as a simple consequence of him having more talent than any player to grace their squad for decades.
Having watched him grow from an easily put off young winger into the insanely driven, outrageous talent that he is today, it’s impossible to put the admiration I have for Zaha into words. Time and time again when he’s backed into a corner, the 25-year-old produces the goods and on Saturday, he took inspiration from the booing to win the game for he and his teammates in truly spectacular fashion.
My favourite thing about the footage attached above, aside from the insane amount of power and whip Wilf manages to generate with next to no back-lift, is the sudden silencing of boos which takes place as he waltzes into the penalty area and pings a shot into the side netting.
We’ve had plenty of prolific goalscorers and twinkle-toed wingers over the years but few, if any, have managed to mesh goals, skill and a burning sense of injustice at the world around them quite like Wilfried Zaha. He’s a truly special talent.