Wilfried Zaha to face England for the first time since he abandoned the country for Ivory Coast… Gareth Southgate understands Zaha’s decision

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Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha has played for England from the under-19 level to the senior team before he decided to switch allegiance to his country of birth, Ivory Coast.

Records show that Zaha made two international appearances since he made his debut for the Three Lions of England on November 14, 2012.

Afterward, he was not invited to the national team as often as he expected. He waited for almost five years before he decided to switch his nationality.

Luckily for him, he only made two appearances in friendly games which permitted him to switch allegiance to Ivory Coast.

Wilfried Zaha who was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on November 10, 1992, left his country for England when he was four years old, made his debut for Ivory Coast on January 8, 2017. Since then, Zaha has played 21 times for the country in which he scored five goals.

He has played for Ivory Coast in three Africa Cup of Nations and is yet to represent the country in the FIFA World Cup. He and his Ivorian teammates missed out on the tournament in 2018 and also failed to qualify for the 2022 edition of the tournament.

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Since Wilfried Zaha agreed to play for the Ivorian national team, he has not faced England in any form of international football. Fortunately for him, he will have the opportunity to do so on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, when England face Ivory Coast in a friendly match at Wembley Stadium. The kick-off time for the game is 19:45.

Gareth Southgate understands why Wilfried Zaha decided to switch his allegiance to Ivory Coast

Wilfried Zaha is to face England for the first time since he abandoned the country for Ivory Coast... Gareth Southgate understands Zaha's decision
File photo of Wilfried Zaha in England’s colors and Gareth Southgate.

Coach Gareth Southgate coached Wilfried Zaha in the under-21 level of the England national team before the Crystal Palace winger gained promotion to the country’s senior team.

Unfortunately, before Gareth Southgate became the coach of the Three Lions of England, Zaha had switched his allegiance to Ivory Coast.

Ahead of the friendly game between England and Ivory Coast, the coach noted that he understands why Zaha decided to switch his nationality.

He noted that Zaha lost his place in the English team when the 29-year-old winger was finding it difficult to settle down at Manchester United after leaving Crystal Palace on January 25, 2013.

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While at Manchester United, Zaha had to return to Palace on loan and also joined Cardiff on loan before he returned to Palace permanently on February 2, 2015, for a transfer fee worth €3.80 million.

“He’s a good player playing at a high level every week,” Gareth Southgate said.

“He felt the Ivory Coast was the route to go and I totally understood that. It’s hard to say what his role might have been with us.

“Raheem has been a key part of our team for a long period, Jesse Lingard had done a fabulous job and, at the start, we had Adam Lallana, who was our player of the year for the first 18 months or so. …

“When we had him with the under-21s he was in the middle of a very difficult spell both with Manchester United and then on loan with Cardiff.

“I remember being asked at the time – and we were asked about a few different cases – and I said players have to have the desire to play for England.

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“That was slightly tweaked a bit, I would say, so that created a little bit of an atmosphere with Wilf and [Palace chairman] Steve Parish for a while.

“That wasn’t an insinuation on Wilf – you couldn’t have a more passionate player as anyone who follows Crystal Palace knows.”

So far this season, Wilfried Zaha who reportedly earns £130,000 per week at Crystal Palace has scored 10 goals and provided two assists in 27 games in all competitions. His contract with Crystal Palace will expire on June 30, 2023.

It might interest you to note that Zaha is currently in a relationship with Paige Bannister. They are both engaged and might marry at any time.

The relationship was blessed with a child (son) in early 2021. Before then, Wilfried Zaha has a son, Leo Zaha, from his previous relationship. The boy was born on August 5, 2016.

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