Wilfried Zaha of Ivory Coast challenged by Djene Ortega of Togo during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Ivory Coast and Togo at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 16 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Tuesday Mar 28, 2017. 10:00
England head coach Gareth Southgate has revealed that he regrets losing Crystal Palace forward Wilfred Zaha to Ivory Coast.
The 24-year-old winger played two friendly games for England's Three Lions, before joining his country of birth, Ivory Coast in 2016.
On Friday, Zaha scored a brilliant solo goal against the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals hosts Russia as Ivory Coast's Elephants beat them 2-0 n Krasnodar.
As a result Steve Parish, Palace chairman, hit out at the England camp - stating that Zaha should be scoring goals for European team instead of Ivory Coast.
"I wouldn't comment on his decisions and we're both in important roles. But he is passionate about his football, his players," Southgate said on Sky Sports News.
"I spoke to him during that process as well, he was keen to push that forward. I totally understand it.
"But I go back to that it was a very small timescale for me to pick him. I didn't really appreciate there was this disappearing egg timer on him going to the Ivory Coast, and of course I was interim manager at the point," he added.
"I didn't want to pick him just because there was a chance that might happen, but the first opportunity I had as permanent manager I did go and speak to him (Parish)."
Zaha, who played for the Elephants at the recent 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, helped Ivory Coast hold Senegal to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly game in France on Monday.