Wilfried Zaha revealed he was depressed at Manchester United and called his time at Old Trafford ‘hell’ after being left isolated at such a young age. The Crystal Palace talisman was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever signing as Man Unitedboss in January 2013.
After signing in a £15 million deal, the mercurial winger was loaned back to the Eagles and helped them secure promotion from the Championship later that season. However, when he came back the following summer the move turned extremely sour quickly.
Speaking to Shortlist, the 25-year-old revealed how life under new David Moyes quickly became hell. He said: “Obviously, getting to United isn’t easy, so not being given a chance is hard to take. I don’t regret anything because it made me stronger. I feel as though I can deal with anything now. “I went through so much with United, with England. There were rumours that the reason I wasn’t playing [many games] for United was because I slept with [then manager] David Moyes’ daughter, and no one [at the club] attempted to clear that up.
“So I was fighting my demons by myself, these rumours that I knew weren’t true. I was dealing with this at 19; 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?” Despite the lucrative move, Zaha went on to explain how, despite rumours to the contrary, having money is not always a good thing for a footballer.
“I explain this to my friends all the time,” he continued. ” 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.” After a failed loan move to Cardiff City in 2014, Zaha rejoined Palace for good in 2015 – making just four appearances for United in two years. Despite moving to England at four, the tricky winger decided to represent his country of birth on the international stage a year later.
Although he wanted to represent the Three Lions (feeling especially jealous at seeing the success of the World Cup) Zaha remains adamant he will enjoy far more success with the Ivory Coast. He added: “I did want to play with England because I’ve been here since the age of four, but it reached a point where I thought, ‘What am I waiting for? I want an international career, am I really going to get an opportunity [with England]?’
“The Ivory Coast had been begging for ages. The country and the fans love me already, and I haven’t even done anything. “I may not get the red carpet, it may not have the same Nike deals as when you play for England, but I’m going to be playing, I’m going to be loved, and that’s all I want. Nothing else. “So when I watched the World Cup I was annoyed, yeah, because we could have been there.”