Wilfried Zaha can become Crystal Palace’s Matt Le Tissier, says Roy Hodgson

Comments()
Getty Images
The Cote d’Ivoire international recently penned a long term deal to ward off interest from top clubs

Wilfried Zaha can emulate Matt Le Tissier and become a club icon at Crystal Palace, according to manager Roy Hodgson, after the player sealed a five-year deal to lay to rest transfer speculations.

Le Tissier carved out a cult status for himself at Southampton, spending his whole career at the South Coast club.

The attacker scored 209 goals in 540 appearances for a struggling Saints side between 1986 and 2002.

And while acknowledging that the lure of winning trophies could be decisive on Zaha’s stay in the future, the Englishman believes a trophyless career does not mean an unsuccessful one.

Asked whether Zaha can become Palace’s Le Tissier, Hodgson told reporters: "I have an enormous respect for Matt Le Tissier. That would have been a career I'd have been unbelievably proud of, to have a career at one club and to be as much of an icon and to be as well loved and as well respected at that club as he is, and furthermore to have the respect of everyone in football.

"I don't know anyone in football who has ever said anything other than that Matt Le Tissier was a fantastic player, fantastic person, a fantastic club servant. That is not such a bad thing to have people say about you when your career is over. I would have been very happy with that. The fact is that there was a time when being at a club for a long time and serving that club very well and helping that club to do very well was enough for people.

"It seems now that we are creating a category, that if you are not in this unbelievably thin category somewhere, where if you haven't won the Premier League title or the Champions League, your career has been a waste of time. I'm afraid I don't subscribe to that. To be fair, all players who play for clubs like us have to accept that it's not going to be easy to get your hands on a trophy. But Leicester did, didn't they? And we can certainly consider ourselves in a similar category to them.

"So I'm certain that he will want and hope and desire that trophy. But I'm not prepared to suggest that the only players worth considering are ones who have won the Champions League or the Premier League trophy, because to do that you have got to play for two or three clubs.

Article continues below

"Who is to say that players are not fulfilled spending the next five years at Crystal Palace, doing exceptionally well every year, loved by the fans, helping Crystal Palace to a position in the league that they think they can achieve. Who is to say that that is not fulfilling goals and that is not a very worthwhile career? You are suggesting that fulfilment of goals is winning the Champions League or winning a Premier League and unfortunately there are not many teams that do that. You'd have to get yourself, I suppose, to one of those teams,' he concluded.

In two spells at Palace, Zaha has made 288 appearances with a record-levelling 44 goals to his name.

On Monday against Liverpool, he stands the chance to become the club's highest goalscorer.

Close