The Crystal Palace star has been targeted by some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and called up to the England squad, but what exactly is all the fuss about?By James Daly
Five Year Plan fanzine
A lot of people are talking about Wilfried Zaha right now but not many outside Selhurst Park really know much about the young star. As a Palace fan let me tell you; he is the best thing to come out of south London since the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park (which I have been assured are fake and aren't real dinosaurs waiting to pounce and take back the earth in a bloody revolution).
The 20-year-old winger-cum-striker-cum-play-him-just-about-anywhere-and-he-will-own-it has everything you want to see in a modern footballer; mind-boggling ability on the ball, pace, a great mohawk haircut, an obsession with Fifa 13 and a string of naive Tweets that sound more like a 13-year-old girl confused about a boy at school.
He's about to become a household name but right now he's still relatively unheard of. So much so that The Independent printed an article about him with a photo of Palace's South African midfield marauder Kagisho Dikgacoi instead, while Sky Sports last week interviewed Eagles' perplexed new winger Yannick Bolasie thinking he was Wilf.
As a result, Zaha is still a down to earth south London lad who lives with his mum and eats at Morley's Chicken takeaway. Which is delicious by the way.
| ZAHA'S PALACE RECORD
He really does have it all, imagine Theo Walcott, only much stronger, with actual ability to beat a player one-one one. Whereas Theo often looks like he lacks a bit of confidence Zaha is oozing it at the moment.
He arrived at Selhurst a fresh-faced teenager, eager to please, and the Palace fans instantly fell in love with him. And while he has frustrated in the past - often with a lack of end product despite beating 4,000 defenders to get into a good position - Wilf has added goals and assists to his game this season. He has become the complete package.
There's another player in red and blue grabbing headlines this week for his goalscoring records but Lionel Messi and the rest can step aside, he's got nothing on Wilf. Has Messi scored a great goal on a cold Tuesday in Doncaster? Does Cristiano Ronaldo have a great mohawk? Have either of them had Morley's Chicken? Do the Barcelona fans sing "He's just too good for you" when Messi is on the ball? Actually, they might, my Spanish is pretty rubbish.
That's the song Eagles fans sing at hapless defenders each time Wilf has torn them a new one (which is loads, by the way). The song has made its way out of the stands and onto TV as Ian Holloway sang it at his first Palace press conference, and even BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid gave it a go one morning this week next a shocked looking Bill Turnbull (or is that how his face always looks?).
A friend of mine suggested that instead the Palace fans should sing "That's the way, Zaha Zaha, I like it" to the tune of KC and the Sunshine Band's awful song from 1975. I somehow managed to resist the urge to punch him squarely in the jaw.
And soon fans of other clubs will be getting the chance to sing it, starting with England supporters if Zaha makes his senior squad debut in Sweden on Wednesday night. It was only a matter of time before Wilf got a call up to the full squad (although I'm sure he's already played 100+ senior games for England on Fifa '13), but it's a great advert for Palace that Roy Hodgson has given him the nod now.
By the way, the Swedish for "He's just too good for you" is "Han är bara för bra för dig" for those of you making the trip to Stockholm.
With Arsenal fighting off Manchester United and Tottenham in the pursuit of Wilf, Gunners fans may themselves soon be singing that on a weekly basis, with reports a deal to take Wilf to the Emirates has already been agreed. My advice to Arsene Wenger? Sign him up quicker than you can say "he's just too good for you".