Wilfried Zaha had played for England at international level.
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha’s desire to play in a World Cup was central in his decision to switch international allegiance to the Ivory Coast.
Speaking to the club’s matchday programme, Zaha said he was “playing well enough to be in and around the England squad” and that the lack of recognition had convinced him to instead represent the country of his birth.
“I have goals in my life such as playing in a World Cup and winning things and I don’t want to be overlooked by a player that’s at a bigger club than me,” he elaborated.
“No matter what I did, it felt like I wouldn’t get picked, so I’ve done it to have a better international career.”
The 24-year-old also revealed that Didier Drogba and Saloman Kalou had lobbied him to play for the Ivory Coast “years ago”.
Zaha won a pair of full England caps in 2012 and 2013 but as both were in friendlies he was free to switch nations. He also played 11 times for England’s under-21s.
The decision to swap meant Zaha, who has scored four times in the Premier League this season and been one of Palace’s few impressive performers, missed a number of club matches to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.
However the pre-tournament favourites were knocked out at the group stage, meaning he was back in less than a month.
He now has a relegation scrap on his hands, but Eagles fans will be delighted to see their homegrown star return, with Zaha’s form seeing him consistently linked with a move to Tottenham in sources such as the Guardian.