Wilfried Zaha: The Most Underappreciated Man in Football?

Wilfried Zaha
during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on August 26, 2018 in Watford, United Kingdom.

There is no doubt that Wilfried Zaha is a special player. His speed, trickery and greatly-improved end product have helped boost his value over the years.

However, there is a lot more to Zaha than what we see on the pitch. He donates money to charity every month and has recently helped fund the Crystal Palace Ladies team.

Is Wilfried Zaha the Most Underappreciated Man in Football?

Zaha On The Pitch

The importance of Zaha to Palace speaks for itself. The Eagles have failed to win all of the last ten games without Zaha since the start of last season, showing how vital he is to Palace. Without him, the performances and confidence within the team drops; see the recent 2-0 defeat to Southampton. Palace lack a creative outlet and spark when Zaha isn’t playing, and yet some still believe he has no end product.

There is no doubt that Zaha’s end product has improved. Last season he scored nine goals and assisted three, playing a vital part in Palace’s survival. Year on year, his goal tally has improved while he has played in the Premier League. In terms of assists, it wasn’t Zaha’s greatest season with just the three. There is good reason for that though. Under current manager Roy Hodgson, Zaha is deployed as a second striker next to Christian Benteke. While not his best position, it suited the way Palace played last season and it has continued into this season with two goals in three games he has played. Adding more goals to his game is what will take Zaha to the next level. As the central piece of how Palace play, he is more than capable to do so.

His goals and overall improved end product are why Palace fans every transfer window worry about keeping him. This summer alone he was linked with Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. However, it appeared to be mere speculation as no official bids were ever disclosed. Palace fans are resigned to losing him to a ‘big’ club eventually and will hope he succeeds when he does leave.

Zaha Off The Pitch

While Zaha works hard on the pitch, he also does plenty of work off of it.

It was revealed back in 2015 that Zaha donates 10% of his monthly earnings to charity. In a move inspired by his mum, Zaha believes that ‘it is his way of giving back to the community’. As his career has grown, so has his wage. He recently signed a new contract, rumoured to be in the region of £130,000 – meaning he now donates £52,000 to chosen charities: a donation that he doesn’t have to make, and it is one that many other footballers should follow.

It is not just charities that he now supports. Recently, it was announced that he would make a ‘substantial’ financial contribution to the Crystal Palace Ladies team. The donation was made following reports that the Ladies team were each having to find money for their sponsorship. There would be very few players that would do such a thing in the modern game, showing the kindness and gratitude Zaha has.

Of course, there may be similar gestures made by other players both past and present but it is unusual in modern football. Many are too concerned with what cars to buy and what else to spend their millions on. His ‘giving back to the community’ deserves to be appreciated more.

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