Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has revealed that his failed stint at Manchester United and the near constant criticism he has faced since is what has driven him on to succeed as he looks to continue proving the doubters wrong.
Zaha was famously the final Old Trafford signing for Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. But the £15m player never got the chance to work with the retiring legend and struggled to impress new boss David Moyes. Following a loan spell at Cardiff, he was sold back to Palace at half the price.
It was never quite clear why Zaha didn’t make an impact at United, but there was never any shortage of speculative stories. There was even one rumour that he was dating Moyes’ daughter and that was why he was on the wrong side of the manager.
“During the times when I wasn’t playing at Man United, everyone was trying to come up with their own reasons why I’m not playing; I’ve got a bad attitude, this, that. So, I just get on with my football,” Zaha, who is now thriving, told Goal.com.
“I’ve used all that energy to help me go on the pitch and prove those people wrong. And prove to myself that I’m the player I want to be,” he added.
“I used to care a lot about [the criticism]…over the years, everyone’s painted a certain picture of me and everyone’s jumped on the bandwagon. I’ve just learned to not care anymore. People are going to say what they want to say.
“Sometimes, even when I play well the people who say the wrong things they choose not to say anything. If you’re not going to be fair, then why should I care about your opinion.”
Now 25 years of age, Zaha has scored eight Premier League goals in 27 appearances for Palace this season, the most prolific campaign of his career to date. That tally includes four goals in his last four games, pushing the Eagles clear of danger and to within reach of a top half finish.
Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked, but Zaha recently revealed that he is ‘happy to stay’ at Palace despite ongoing speculation about a high profile move.