Dazet Wilfried Armel Zaha, better known as just Wilfried Zaha, is a professional football player who plays as a winger for English Premier League team Crystal Palace and the Ivory Coast national team.
Born at Abidjan in Ivory Coast on November 10, 1992, Zaha relocated to England with his family at the age of four. He excelled at football in school and went on to join the academy at Crystal Palace at the age of 12.
After spending six years playing for youth teams across various age groups at Crystal Palace’s academy, Zaha was promoted to the Crystal Palace first team in 2010.
His Crystal Palace debut came on March 27, 2010 when he was brought on as a substitute by caretaker manager Paul Hart in a home match against Cardiff City. Zaha would subsequently sign a two-year-contract with Palace in April 2010.
Zaha managed to establish himself as a key member of the first team squad at Palace during the 2010-11 pre-season. His first senior goal came in a 3-2 win over Leicester City on August 7, 2010. He managed to score one goal and made two assists from a total of 44 appearances for the season.
The winger made a blistering start to his second season as he plundered in a couple of goals in a League Cup contest against Crawley Town on August 23, 2011. On November 30, 2011, Zaha featured for Palace as the side notched up a surprise 2-1 win over Manchester United in the League Cup.
The player was named as The Football League’s Young Player of the Year in March 2012. The 2011-12 season saw Zaha voted as Palace’s Young Player of the Year for the second season in a row. He notched up nine goals and five assists from 48 appearances that season.
The following season, Zaha opened his account with a brace against Wolves on October 2, 2012. He went on to score another brace in four days’ time as Palace beat Burnley 4-3 at home. His exploits for Palace that season saw Palace top the Championship by November.
Manchester United made their interest in the player concrete in January 2013 as Zaha became the last man to be signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for the club. However, Zaha was loaned to Palace for the remainder of the season with Palace staking a claim for promotion to the Premier League. Zaha played a crucial role by scoring twice in the semi-final playoff against Brighton to put Palace in the play-off final. He won the winning penalty for Palace in the final to put the club in the top tier of English football.
While Zaha was signed for Manchester United by Ferguson, the latter had retired from his post of 26 years after having secured the league title in 2012-13. Although Zaha impressed during the pre-season under new manager David Moyes, he never got a proper look-in from the new manager and was subsequently shipped out on loan to Cardiff City in January 2014.