Zaha denies 'arrogant' tag after Messi and Ronaldo comment

Nov 13, 2012

Crystal Palace star, called up to England squad, says his words were 'twisted' in interview

Paul Gilham

WILFRIED ZAHA is having a week to remember. The Crystal Palace youngster was called up to the England squad on Monday and today finds himself the centre of attention after he was linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

He has also made waves with his first major newspaper interview, with The Guardian, in which he provocatively announced that the only players he considered better than him were the great Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, he later took to Twitter to claim that his words had been "twisted" and tried to play down allegations of arrogance.

Zaha has been been making waves in the Championship with his performances for Palace for some time, and readers of Transfer Talk will be familiar with his name as he has been courted by a host of Premier League clubs. But, until now, he was something of an unknown.

However, he obviously believes he is ready for the big time if his Guardian interview is anything to go by.

"I've not really come up against a defender yet where I've thought: 'What can I really do to go past him?'" he told the paper, and was unafraid to single out opponents by name.

He revealed that he had the beating of Blackburn's Danny Murphy earlier this season. "I know I'm 10 times faster than this guy, so I didn't have to do any trickery. I'd just push it and go past him," he declared.

And Zaha recalled another incident from that game. "[Colin] Kazim-Richards tried to get into my head," he began. "I held him and [Morten Gamst] Pedersen off and he went through me. He said: 'You're going to have to be sharper than that, lad.' I thought: 'Shut up, fool.'"

He also picked out Southampton defender Guly do Prado, who he played against last season. "I went past him and he took me out, grabbed me and said: 'Respect me.' I'm thinking I don't know you, I don't care who you are, so why should I?"

But his most notable boast concerned the two kings of world football. "I'd never look at someone and think he's better than me, unless it's Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi," he announced. "When I get on the pitch it's my time."

Not everyone was impressed by his pronouncements. "[His] streak of arrogance has hardly endeared him to second-tier opponents, but Zaha is happy to make his point on the pitch and let others do the talking," said The Daily Telegraph.

Others wondered why he had been allowed to speak so freely. "Whoever Zaha's agent is has done the lad no favours letting him talk about Messi/Ronaldo. Unnecessary hype and spotlight. Let him play," tweeted Stan Collymore.

Zaha appeared to agree after taking to Twitter himself to try and play down accusations of arrogance.

"My words were absolutely twisted and taken the wrong way in my last interview," he said. "Thanks for all the supportive messages and those who understood my interview wasn't me trying to be arrogant."

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