Eagle Eyed View: Zaha fever is deserved but Palace would suffer if he left
12:55 13 November 2012
Even by this season’s standards, Wilfried Zaha will love all the attention lavished on him today after his first senior England call-up.
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Name: Luke Jacobs
Twitter handle: @lukemjacobs
Favourite player: Geoff Thomas/Current: Julian Speroni
Most memorable game: Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham, play-off final
Predicted finish: 12th
There have been double page spreads in all the tabloids and interviews with the nationals, while Daniel Sturridge’s tribute to his talents was among the most read stories on London 24 yesterday afternoon.
And he deserves all the plaudits and profiles too (how did some of the national newspaper journalists find searching for non-Manchester City/Arsenal/Liverpool content to fill this morning’s back pages?).
The call-up to the squad face Sweden is a testament to his own hard work, tutelage by the Crystal Palace academy coaches, club management and his stunning form. Only a cynic would say it is purely a spoiler to prevent him linking up with the Ivory Coast. The fact that it is a friendly would appear to rule that out anyway.
He is close to fulfilling the undoubted promise he showed when he burst onto the scene at Selhurst Park only two seasons ago. He has genuinely come on leaps and bounds since making his debut under Paul Hart and subsequently cementing his place in the first team under Dougie Freedman.
But would Palace fans be forgiven for thinking a bit more selfishly?
The team is still on a roll and the threat of an England call-up becoming a distraction for club and player might seem alarmist but it is a legitimate one.
To be honest, the club has survived managerial upheaval this early in a season in a way that it did not when Steve Bruce upped sticks at the same stage 11 years ago.
But would they continue to flourish even if shorn of their brightest talent midway through the season? The answer is no.
Some of the newspapers are already seeing the call up as his gateway to Arsenal or Real Madrid in January.
All the signs from the coaches and staff at the club point to his feet being firmly fixed to the ground.
He is at the top of his game, but is also surfing the crest of a Crystal Palace wave that is drowning all in front of it at the moment – and he knows it.
Despite signing a five-and-a-half year contract last season, few would begrudge Zaha a move to one of Europe’s top club in the summer for a hefty fee if Palace do not maintain their momentum and get promoted this season.
But the England call-up will be seen by observers as a sure sign that Zaha may soon be just too good for us.