6 Apr 2015

"I felt worthless at Manchester United" - Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha says his unhappy spell at Manchester United made him feel “worthless” as a footballer.

Zaha completed a permanent transfer back to Selhurst Park in January after an unhappy two years at Old Trafford that saw him make just two starts and two substitute appearances for United.

Zaha, who became Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing as manager when he joined in a £12m deal from Crystal Palace in January 2013, says the lack of game time drained his self-confidence.
“There is nothing worse than not being involved. You are sitting there thinking ‘what exactly am I? A footballer who is not playing football?’ he told the Sunday Telegraph.

“You feel a bit worthless sitting in the stands, watching all the time. You have nothing to speak about with the players.”
Zaha was particularly upset at speculation that he was not fully committed to football, and says that his unsmiling attitude on the pitch does not mean that he does not enjoy the game.
“Just because I don’t smile a lot people think ‘ah, yeah. He must have a bad attitude,’” he said.

“But if you don’t know me you don’t know me. That was the problem. My face is just serious!

“The rumours hurt me because all I was doing was keeping my head down to do my best every time and then after training I’d go home and there would be something in the paper or wherever about me not having a good attitude and that’s why I wasn’t playing, rumours about my private life and that’s why I wasn’t playing, me turning up late for this, turning up late for that.

“And I was thinking ‘why are people doing this?’ I’d worked so hard to get here and now people were trying to bring me down. On top of not playing I had to deal with all that weird nonsense as well.”
Palace, who face Premier League champions Manchester City on Monday night at Selhurst Park, lie 12th in the Premier League, having been in the relegation places when Alan Pardew took over as manager in January.

Zaha says Pardew has worked hard with him on the training ground to improve his own all-round game.
“I’ve been out there for hours with him working on running out wide and into the box to get on the end of things,” he said.

“That’s something that I wasn’t really doing. I had a tap-in where I nearly broke my hip and another goal when I just gambled and ran. Those are the things he is trying to put into our games and I appreciate that.”
Credit: NickR/Setanta Sport

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