New England call-up Zaha may opt for Ivory Coast
Published 13/11/2012 | 14:04
ENGLAND new-boy Wilfried Zaha admits "it's 50-50" as to whether he will represent his adopted country long-term.
The 20-year-old Crystal Palace winger has been included in Roy Hodgson's squad to face Sweden tomorrow and is expected to make his senior debut, having previously featured at under-21 level.
But as the match is only a friendly Zaha, who was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to England with his family aged four, would still be free to switch his allegiance to the country of his birth.
He has already had a telephone call from Elephants legend Didier Drogba urging him to do just that, but remains in two minds.
"I was born in the Ivory Coast but all I know is England," Zaha told national newspapers. "It's 50-50 at the moment.
"Didier Drogba called me and I was shocked, to be honest. He's a humble guy. I've been with England Under-21s and now I will have to make a decision."
Coupled with Zaha's tweet in response to his call-up on Sunday evening - "Wow, everything's happening so fast" - the comments paint a picture of a bewilderment at odds with the youngster's supreme confidence when he discusses his ability and ambitions.
Having terrified npower Championship defences this season and last, he freely admits he wants to face "defenders who will properly test me" and is even prepared to mention himself in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, widely considered the best two players in the world.
That 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.
He said: "Last season Guly do Prado at Southampton 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?'
"It even happens before games now. Brighton's manager Gus Poyet said Will Buckley is better than me, but I don't see the point of coming out with nonsense like that.
"Now I don't bite, I just keep my head down and don't care. When I've got the ball at my feet I do wonder what goes through a defender's head when the Palace fans are singing 'He's just too good for you'.
"I think about the Premier League all the time, wondering when I'm going to come up against better defenders. I'm not saying I'm leaving Palace but that's where I want to play.