The Cote d’Ivoire international disclosed his desire from a tender age, revealing the role his father played towards making that a reality
Wilfried Zaha has reflected on growing up, revealing that becoming a professional footballer was all he craved for.
Born in Abidjan but raised in south London, the 27-year-old said his mindset was to achieve success in the beautiful game, while looking back at the sacrifices he had to make as well as his father’s role to ensure his dream was actualised.
The former England youth international rose to prominence after his promotion to the Crystal Palace’s first-team before joining Manchester United in 2013, after which he returned to Selhurst Park after failing to command regular action at Old Trafford.
"Football was my number one goal. Then just growing up where I was, there weren’t that many opportunities and it made me even more fixated on accomplishing my dream. It pushed me even more,” Zaha told Sky Sports, per the Crystal Palace website.
"When your mindset is always that goal, I don’t think you can fail because I lived, breathed, ate football. There was nothing else. I feel like there’s no way you can fail if that’s all you think about constantly and that’s all you practice. There’s no way.
"When I speak to people, give advice to younger footballers, it’s just like: 'When that’s all you think about - when you go to sleep it’s football, wake up and it’s football - there’s no way you can fail. That’s your number one goal.'
"Are you willing to sacrifice these parties and so many different things? I missed so many parties and I used to think: ‘Oh my God, that’s the party of the year.’”
“As you grow up you realise there’s a party every other day, but these opportunities for you to reach your goal don’t come every day,” he continued.
"I never had a day where I thought I don’t fancy it. No matter what. It’s football - the love I have for football is unbelievable so there was never a time where I’d look outside, even if it’s raining, whatever, it don’t make a difference. I just had to get there and do what I have to do."
Zaha who has scored four goals in five games so far this season, also talked avidly about his father and his contributions to his football dreams.
He added: "The main person who followed me around every single day was my dad.
"He took me to training through snow, through rain. My dad loved football as well but he knew how much I loved football so, even if he had to take me to training in a banger - the cars we used to go to training in is crazy.
"We used to break down, push the cars. My dad’s like 70 - so he was doing it when he was old. But it was: ‘I know how much he loves it, so I’ll do whatever.’"