Wilfried Zaha has described his short time at Manchester United as a young player as “hell”.
The winger was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson after impressing a huge range of clubs with his performances for Crystal Palace in the Sky Bet Championship. Zaha was instrumental as the Eagles pushed for promotion.
While Ferguson brought Zaha to the club, the Scot retired before he got the chance to manage the now-Palace man. Ferguson’s successor, David Moyes, hardly played Zaha and the then-20-year-old’s chances of making it at Old Trafford became slimmer day by day.
Now, he’s tearing it up back at Crystal Palace and with it being some years since he left United to return to the club where he first made his name, Zaha has spoken of the torrid period.
“I was dealing with this at 19,” Zaha explained to Shortlist.
“Living in Manchester by myself, nowhere near anyone else, because the club had a hold over where I lived.
“They hadn’t given me a car, like every other player [had]. Nothing. I’m living in this hell by myself, away from my family, and I thought, ’if this doesn’t make me stronger, what will?’
“When I was at United I had money, but I was still so down and depressed. People think your life’s different because you’ve got money, you’ve got fame, so they don’t treat you the same.”
Zaha wasn’t given a proper chance at United. He was one of a number of players who suffered from Ferguson’s retirement ore than others.
Players like Zaha, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Rafael da Silva could arguably still be at the club today had Ferguson stayed. They were the unintentional victims of the Scot finally calling it a day after his glorious reign at the club.
As it turned out, it sounds like Zaha was mistreated at United. He was rarely played, and from his most recent comments, United did not give him the necessary support.
The pressure on young footballers is enormous and there is not enough support for them at top clubs. Luke Shaw is someone who could probably atone to that.