Wilfried Zaha says things have changed at Crystal Palace since he made the jump from the academy to the first team – and has given young stars his advice on how to reach the top.
Wilfried Zaha said: “There was Kier [Djalili], Scans, Clyney – even though I didn’t really chat to Clyney like that, he was a weird one. But Clyney was always cool. You know what I mean, though. Even now he’s here, he’s just a funny character, man. There was Calvin Andrew, Claude Davis – there was a few people that was cool. Now everyone mixes more. Before, when I came through at the beginning, I had arguments with everyone. With everyone. Obviously, at first when I first broke into the first team, I didn’t say a word. Then afterwards when I was starting to play and stamp who I am [on the team], people didn’t really like how I was, or whatever. On the pitch. I used to dribble, do whatever. I used to take the mick out of some of the older players with some of the stuff that I do on the pitch and they’d be mad with me over it in training. I did not back down from it because it’s who I am. You’re not going to tell me how to play. Think about the way Palace played before to how me and Yannick [Bolasie] being some of the most skilful wingers in the Championship. So it was kind of different. There was a bit of grief here and there but it worked out. I didn’t come to blows with anyone.”
Zaha also says that young players hoping to emulate his career so far will need two key traits mentally speaking to make it to the top.
Wilfried Zaha added: “The only thing I have to say is self-belief – actually two things: self belief and you have to have that real determination, That’s the proper thing that you need to have: proper determination. Because you will come across so many obstacles. So many. And it’s just from every aspect of life. You have to just make sure you’re prepared for that. Because if you’re not it will just break you. I’m sure we’ve all seen talented players evaporate. So that’s all I’ve got to say: self-belief and determination.”
The 28-year-old made his Palace debut back in 2010 against Cardiff City. Zaha went on loan to Cardiff before another short-term spell at Selhurst Park which was followed by a permanent deal in February 2015. Zaha says that his transition from the academy was not the easiest with his style causing some friction with some of the older players, but he added that many helped him to make the leap to the first team, and things have changed in that regard since he rejoined the club.
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