Zaha playing for Crystal Palace in 2016
|Full name||Dazet Wilfried Armel Zaha|
|Date of birth||10 November 1992|
|Place of birth||Abidjan, Ivory Coast|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|2013||→ Crystal Palace (loan)||16||(1)|
|2014||→ Cardiff City (loan)||12||(0)|
|2014–2015||→ Crystal Palace (loan)||16||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:48, 6 October 2018 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20:31, 11 August 2018 (UTC)
Zaha advanced into the Crystal Palace first team from their academy in 2010. In January 2013, he transferred to Manchester United for an initial fee of £10 million, Alex Ferguson's last transfer before his retirement at the end of the season. Zaha remained on loan at Palace until the end of the season, helping them return to the Premier League. After an unsuccessful 2013–14 season with Manchester United (partly spent on loan at Cardiff City), Zaha returned to Palace in August 2014 on a season-long loan, before rejoining the club on a permanent basis in February 2015.
Born in the Ivory Coast, Zaha grew up in England from the age of four. He made his debut for the England national team in 2012. He made two non-competitive appearances for England, the last of which coming in 2013, before switching his allegiances to the Ivory Coast ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Style of play
- 5 Career statistics
- 6 Honours
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Zaha moved with his family – including his eight siblings – to Thornton Heath in the London Borough of Croydon, at the age of four. He was educated at Whitehorse Manor Junior School, Thornton Heath and Selsdon High School, Selsdon.
Zaha was given his Crystal Palace first-team debut at home to Cardiff City on 27 March 2010 by caretaker manager Paul Hart as a substitute for Stern John with 10 minutes remaining in the 2–1 loss. He signed a two-year professional contract with Palace in April.
He quickly progressed through the ranks at Palace and became a key member of the first team during the 2010–11 pre-season friendlies. On 7 August 2010, he scored his first senior goal in a 3–2 win over Leicester City. Zaha assisted Kieron Cadogan in the home match against Queens Park Rangers and James Vaughan in the away match against Watford. On 12 April 2011, he was sent off in the 95th minute against Leicester City for an alleged stamp on Patrick van Aanholt but it was later rescinded. Zaha ended the season playing a total of 44 matches, while scoring 1 goal and having 2 assists in all competitions.
Zaha started the 2011–12 season by scoring two goals in a League Cup match on 23 August 2011 at home to Crawley Town. On 30 November, Zaha impressed in Crystal Palace's 2–1 shock win over Manchester United in the League Cup, constantly sneaking through the United defence and in January, attracting interest from Liverpool and Manchester United.
In the latter part of the season, manager Dougie Freedman opted to play Zaha as a striker and on 21 April he scored in a 2–2 draw with Reading, in a match that saw Reading secure the Championship title. At the end of the 2011–12 season, Zaha was voted Crystal Palace Young Player of the Year for a second time in a row. During this season, he made 48 appearances while scoring 9 goals and recording 5 assists.
Zaha started the 2012–13 season brightly, getting an assist in the League Cup against Exeter City and winning a penalty in the first league match against Watford. Zaha scored his first two goals of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 2 October 2012. He then scored two goals in a match again, four days later, in a 4–3 win over Burnley.
On 5 March 2013, Zaha scored his first goal for Crystal Palace since being loaned back from Manchester United, in a 4–2 victory against promotion rivals Hull City. On 13 May 2013, in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Brighton, Zaha scored two goals in the second half to put Crystal Palace into the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. In the play-off final on 27 May 2013, Zaha won a penalty that was converted to secure Crystal Palace a Premier League spot for 2013–14.
On 25 January 2013, Zaha agreed to join Premier League club Manchester United, and would immediately be loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season. Palace tried to delay the transfer and agree the transfer in the summer of 2013, but Football League rules prevented this with the player having to join United and be loaned back to Palace. Zaha passed the medical at Manchester United, signing a five-and-a-half-year contract on 26 January 2013 for a reported £10m rising to £15m with performance-related add-ons.
On 11 August 2013, Zaha made his debut for Manchester United in the 2013 FA Community Shield against Wigan Athletic. He was included in the starting line-up and played 61 minutes before being replaced by Antonio Valencia as he won his first major honour in football. He did not play again until 29 October, starting in a 4–0 win over Norwich City in the third round of the League Cup at Old Trafford. His Premier League debut was on 7 December in a 1–0 home loss to Newcastle United, as a substitute for Nani shortly after his team conceded.
At the end of the season, following Moyes' sacking, Zaha said that he was never given a chance by the Scot. He contrasted his experience with that of Raheem Sterling, another young attacker who was given a chance by Liverpool after a difficult start. He also said that false and malicious online rumours about him had upset him.
Return to Crystal Palace
On 28 August 2014, Zaha agreed to a season-long loan deal with Crystal Palace. Two days later, in the first match of his loan, he scored a stoppage-time equaliser in a 3–3 draw at Newcastle United. On 2 February 2015, the final day of the winter transfer window, Zaha's move to Palace was made permanent with the signing of a five-and-a-half-year contract for an undisclosed fee. It also included a buy back clause, believed to be in the region of £3 million, rising to £6 million with add-ons; Manchester United will also receive a percentage of the fee if Palace sell Zaha in the future.
Zaha played regularly for Crystal Palace throughout the season, finishing the season with four goals and two assists as Crystal Palace finished the league in 10th place.
Again, Zaha was a regular for Crystal Palace in this season, making 34 appearances, scoring two goals and recording one assist, while Crystal Palace finished in 15th place. He helped Crystal Palace reach the 2016 FA Cup Final, by playing in every match since the third round entry and scoring two goals along the way. Zaha played the whole 120 minutes in the final, but could not help Palace to a victory, as Manchester United won 2–1. Zaha won the Crystal Palace Player of the Year award for the first time.
On 26 December 2016, Zaha was declined a penalty in the closing minutes against Watford. Some speculated that Zaha had overplayed the foul or taken a dive. After the match Watford's mascot attempted to rile Zaha up by mimicking a dive in front of him. On 14 May 2017, Zaha scored the opening goal in the third minute of the Crystal Palace Hull city game that simultaneously mathematically secured Crystal Palace's top flight status and relegated Hull City to the Championship. After another outstanding season with The Eagles, Zaha won Crystal Palace's Player of the Year award for the second year running. On 26 May 2017, Zaha signed a new five-year contract with Crystal Palace.
On 14 October 2017, Zaha returned to Palace's starting line-up for the first time in two months and scored to open a 2–1 win over Chelsea to give the Eagles their first points of the season. He was Premier League Player of the Month for April 2018 for his four goals and assist while playing up front; on 14 April he scored twice in the first half of a 3–2 win over rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.
Despite their poor start, Palace stayed up with a game in hand under new manager Roy Hodgson, with the combination between Zaha and fellow winger Andros Townsend a key factor. He was named their Player of the Year for the third time in a row, a feat only done before by goalkeeper Julián Speroni.
In Palace's first game of the new season on 11 August, Zaha scored the second goal of a 2–0 win at Fulham. It was his 23rd Premier League goal for the club, drawing level with Chris Armstrong as their top scorer in the competition's history. Fifteen days later, with a consolation goal in a 2–1 loss at Watford, he overtook Armstrong.
After scoring a winning goal against Huddersfield Town in September 2018, Zaha publicly complained about what he considered to be a lack of appropriate protection by referees against fouls, saying that he would need a broken leg before any action would be taken. Data proved that in the last five years, he was the second most fouled player in the league after Eden Hazard.
His success over the course of his first full season resulted in a call-up to the England under-19 team for their match against Germany in February 2011. He was called up to the under-21 team on 23 February 2012. He made his debut in a 4–0 win against Belgium on 29 February, assisting Henri Lansbury for the third goal. On 11 November 2012, Zaha was called up to the senior team by manager Roy Hodgson for a friendly match against Sweden on 14 November. He came on as a substitute for fellow debutant Raheem Sterling in the 83rd minute.
When Zaha was in good form for Crystal Palace under Hodgson ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the manager said that he regretted not fielding the winger in a competitive game to tie him down to England.
Ivory Coast (2016–present)
On 27 November 2016, the Ivorian Football Federation confirmed that Zaha had sent correspondence to FIFA to switch his international football allegiance from England to the Ivory Coast. In response to this development, England manager Gareth Southgate indicated he would try to dissuade Zaha from changing allegiance due to his consistent club form.
In January, Zaha was named in the Ivory Coast squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his debut against Sweden in a friendly in Abu Dhabi on 8 January, being subbed on at half time and assisting Giovanni Sio's goal in a 2–1 win. Three days later, against Uganda at the same venue, he made his first international start and scored his first goal in a 3–0 win. At the tournament in Gabon, the reigning champion Elephants were eliminated at the group stage, with Zaha starting each game.
Style of play
Zaha can play as a forward or as a winger. In 2018, Adrian Clarke of the Premier League's website opined that he "offers more threat" as a frontman, going on to add that "his ultra-mobile combination with [Andros] Townsend generates more goals and points", citing "the speed, athleticism and unpredictable movement of the Zaha-Townsend axis is more difficult for opponents to contain".
Zaha has been accused of diving, however Roy Hodgson, who managed him at club level for Crystal Palace and internationally for England, has stated: "Wilf Zaha does not dive for penalties. He gets knocked over sometimes – sometimes he gets knocked over or unbalanced without it being a penalty or a foul – because he runs at such speed and has such agility with the ball. But he certainly doesn’t dive". Hodgson also said that Zaha's characterisation as a diver is because of a "campaign" and it causes fouls against him to be dismissed by referees.
- As of match played 6 October 2018
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Manchester United||2013–14||Premier League||2||0||0||0||1||0||1[b]||0||4||0|
|Cardiff City (loan)||2013–14||Premier League||12||0||1||0||—||—||13||0|
|Crystal Palace||2014–15||Premier League||31||4||3||0||1||0||—||35||4|
- As of match played 11 November 2017
- As of match played 11 November 2017. Ivory Coast score listed first, score column indicates score after each Zaha goal.
|1||11 January 2017||Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||2||Uganda||2–0||3–0||Friendly|||
|2||24 March 2017||Krasnodar Stadium, Krasnodar, Russia||6||Russia||2–0||2–0||Friendly|||
- Crystal Palace Player of the Year: 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- Football League Young Player of the Month: October 2012
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