Having been a staple of transfer gossip columns for the last couple of years, Wilfried Zaha may have assumed he knew a fair bit about the interest he could receive from the press, but the step up in coverage of the young star since his call up may have surprised him in its intensity.
Since Zaha was added to Hodgson's squad there has been innumerable pieces discussing how good he can be for England, how he has already surprised many in the squad with his talent. There have even been pieces already that describe him as overhyped.
The coverage is similar to that of Theo Walcott when he first joined the England squad, and the expectations placed on players in their first call up create an enormous amount of pressure on them to impress from the off.
Zaha has also been described as arrogant after an interview where he is widely quoted as saying he only believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are better than him. Zaha was quick to counter the story, saying on Twitter that he says these things to boost his confidence on the field, and that he knows there are players out there better than him, but the story continues to run without his caveats.
The attention could backfire horribly for England, as Zaha has yet to decide on whether he will represent England or the Ivory Coast internationally. The midfielder was born in the Ivory Coast, where his parents are from, but has grown up in England.
Didier Drogba has reportedly called Zaha directly to highlight to benefits of playing for the Ivory Coast, and the young player has described himself as 50/50 over which country he will decide to represent. For Zaha to commit to either side he will need to play a competitive match for them, with the next England opportunity coming in March next year, with Ivory Coast’s next competitive game in January’s African Cup of Nations.
In the intervening time you can imagine the speculation he will face about his future, especially if he plays and performs well in the friendly against Sweden this week. If the attention is not to Zaha's liking, there is every possibility he could decide to join Drogba at the African Cup of Nations in January.
image: © Ethan.K