Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha
Wednesday Mar 29, 2017. 19:00
Wilfried Zaha has rejected a perceived attack on his desire and passion to play for England by manager Gareth Southgate.
Zaha recently changed his international allegiance to the country of his birth, the Ivory Coast, despite having been capped twice by England.
The player was granted this permission because he had not represented the Three Lions in a competitive match.
Southgate discussed the situation earlier this week, arguing that if a player wants to represent England, they should have an “internal 100 percent passion” and a “desire” to do so.
Zaha, through a statement issued by his representative Will Salthouse of Unique Sports Management, has questioned the terminology and language used by the England manager.
“In light of recent comments and reports questioning Wilfried’s desire or passion to play for England I feel it’s important to set the record straight,” the statement read.
“Wilfried did not impose a timescale or set a date by which he had to be selected by England, there was no ‘disappearing egg timer’. The ‘private’ meeting with Mr Southgate was very amicable.
“However the fact remains that Wilfried made his decision to play for the Ivory Coast prior to Mr Southgate being appointed interim and subsequently permanent England manager.
“It was Wilfried’s personal choice and it was his right as a senior player to accept the opportunity to represent his nation of birth and that of his family heritage. His ‘desire’ or ‘passion’ should never have been publicly questioned for making that decision.
“Wilfried is very proud of his family and very proud to represent the Ivory Coast, most recently demonstrated by his performance against Russia.”