Wilfried Zaha finally made his first start for Galatasaray on Saturday, and celebrated by scoring his first goal for the Turkish giants. It was the type of breath-taking move he has made a habit of producing throughout his career and Ankaragucu, who were leading 1-0 at the time, were the latest in a long line of victims.
Zaha received the ball on the left of the box and swivelled away from one defender with a swift turn of his body and a flick of his left foot, brushing past another before unleashing an unstoppable strike high into the net. Zaha almost set up another goal just two minutes later with another incisive run inside from the left wing and an inviting cross for Tete, who took the ball around the goalkeeper before somehow missing the target.
Zaha came off to a standing ovation from the 52,000 fans inside RAMS Park, the perfect send off for the biggest game so far of his Turkish adventure: Tuesday's Champions League showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Zaha has fond memories of facing the Red Devils, scoring twice in a 3-1 win for Crystal Palace at the Theatre of Dreams on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and the only goal in a 1-0 win on the final day of the following campaign.
His memories of playing for United are much less fond, however; his season with the club the one disappointing footnote in an otherwise brilliant career. Indeed, it is easy to forget that Zaha even played for the Red Devils. After signing for United from boyhood club Palace in January 2013 for £10 million ($12m), he went on to play a mere 28 minutes of Premier League football with the club. He was only named on the bench seven times and that was despite the fact he had no notable injuries.
Just two years later and after an unsuccessful loan spell with Cardiff City, Zaha rejoined Palace for £3m ($3.6m), going on to resurrect his career with the Eagles and turning into one of the best wingers in the Premier League. Last summer he departed for Galatasaray as one of the club's greatest-ever players, having scored 90 goals and contributed 76 assists.
Zaha is far from the only player to fail to meet huge expectations at United, but the story of his miserable time in Manchester and how he rebuilt his career away from Old Trafford says less about him and far more about the club's inability to nurture talent in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era...