The insight on £15m Manchester United newbie Wilfried Zaha

Zaha Palace New2

The 20-year-old winger moved from Crystal Palace in January and will finally make his full debut for the Red Devils this season.

Wilfried Zaha insists he feels right at home at Manchester United, despite only training with his new team-mates for the past three weeks. David Moyes has singled out Zaha, the former Crystal Palace winger, for his four pre - season performances - where he has looked sensational.

Wilfried, who admitted to being "star struck" when he saw the calibre of the players in the United dressing room, is blending in well for a 20-year-old newbie.

"Everyone's so nice and they make you feel comfortable,” he told ManUtd.com."I was so nervous when I came in, but I was made to feel at home straight away. On my first day at the club there were about 100 people I needed to meet. I was going around shaking people's hands and thinking ‘I'm never going to remember these names!’ But it is like a family here."

Ian Holloway, Zaha's manager at the Eagles shared this on Wilfried Zaha.

"Wilf's talent will win games in the top flight; football is very transient but Wilf's talent will be here to stay."

In two recent interviews Wilfried Zaha had this to share with fans.

What would you say are your best attributes? Anything you need to work on?

"I love going one-on-one with defenders and using my pace and trickery. I don't really think about it too much - if I've got the ball at my feet it just happens. If I get past them, great; If I don't then I'LL just try again. I'd like to master the timing of my runs and finishing."

How do you deal with defenders attempts to rough you up?

"You must be smart. I try to pop one-twos around them and not get too involved in the physical side. Players try to get in my head early on, but I know what they're trying to do so I try not to react."

 

So tell me more about Wilfried Zaha...

Prepare to be entertained. He has a searing pace, he's fearless, hard to knock off the ball, possesses a bewildering set of skills that can see him glide past defenders, and he also scores spectacular goals.

Is he an out - and - out winger?

To begin with, he'll probably be used in the best traditions of United wingers, but he has too much talent to be marooned on the flank and in time could be used more centrally as well.

He's only played in the Championship, will the big stage overawe him?

Unlikely, as you may have gathered if you witnessed his eye-catching performance in the Wembley play-off final against Watford in May. Zaha has already made his England debut, against Sweden."

In a recent interview he said, "I'd never look at someone and think he's better than me, unless it's Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. When I get on the pitch it's my time.’’

So what's his background?

The eighth of nine children, Zaha was born in the Ivory Coast, but moved to England when he was just four years old and settled in the shadow of Selhurst Park in Thornton Heath, South London.

Where did he get those skills?

He would work on his step-overs and drag-backs with a tennis ball on the floor of his bedroom. Sometimes trying to copy what he had seen Brazilian legend Ronaldinho do on the television, and sometimes just inventing his own skills.

How did Zaha progress through the Palace ranks?

He was handed his first-team debut as a substitute against Cardiff City in March 2010, before getting his first start from George Burley on the opening day of the 2010/11 season, which he marked with his first goal in a win over Leicester City. He immediately became a Palace regular and retained his place from that point, amassing well over 100 appearances.

What were the highlights of his Palace career?

Thrilling form in his full debut season earned him the Football League Young Player of the Year award in 2011/12, and went one better last season, being named the PFA Championship Player of the Year. As well as the vital play-off final win, his standout performance came in the play-off semi-final second leg against fierce rivals Brighton where he scored both goals in the Eagles' 2-0 win to book their place in the Wembley final.

Don't forget his only appearance thus far at Old Trafford...

Of course not, for it was probably this display in Palace's 2-1 win against United in the 2011/12 Carling Cup quarter-final that first convinced Sir Alex Ferguson he had the talent to perform at Old Trafford. On the evening Zaha constantly troubled the United rear-guard and had the self belief to showcase his range of ability.

So, what does Zaha have to say about his rapid rise?

"I've not really come up against a defender yet where I've thought: ' What can I really do to go past him?'"

Fact file.....

Full name: Dazet Wilfried Armel Zaha

Date of Birth: 10.11.1992 (age 20)

Birthplace: Abidjan, Ivory Coast

First Club: Crystal Palace

Palace debut: Substitute v Cardiff City, 27.03.10

Joined United: 25.01.13 (but loaned back to Palace)

International honours: England U21 (9 caps, 1 goal),

Seniors (1 cap - sub v Sweden, 14.11.2012)

How successful do you feel Wilfried Zaha will be at Manchester United, has he been the standout performer on the summer tour so far?

image: © Tom Brogan

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