Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has praised the Selhurst faithful for the reception they gave wantaway Wilfried Zaha.
Zaha made a second-half substitute appearance in the 0-0 draw with Everton and was met by a standing ovation from all corners of the stadium.
Zaha stays at Palace: Five things to know…
- Zaha scored 10 goals for Palace last season.
- He told the club he wanted to leave for European football at the start of the summer.
- Palace rejected bids from Arsenal and Everton.
- Zaha handed in a dramatic transfer request with a day left of the transfer window.
- It appears the winger will spend the 2019/20 season at Palace.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Hodgson discussed the Ivorian and his highly-anticipated return to Selhurst Park.
He said: “He handled it very well I thought. The crowd helped, didn’t it?
“The crowd gave him such a great reception and it was nice to have him available obviously to give us another dimension for our play. He did well, he set us up for an incredible goal chance that could have won it for us at the end.
“I think he’s a bit rusty – there’s no doubt about that. When the player comes back after three weeks away – having a holiday after the African Cup of Nations – he’s going to need a little bit of time to find his true form. He’s a phenomenal athlete when it comes to fitness – he was fit enough to play in the game. To find the form he’ll want to find, he’ll need a week or two – but it was good to give him the chance to come on and give him those minutes. And he almost helped us to the three points.
“That fact is that the situation has been and gone, and I’m sure Wilf will make certain he brings his straw to the water and helps us have a good season, just like he has done in the last two seasons.”
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Zaha thanks Palace fans
Despite a summer rife with speculation, rumours and unrest, it was never in doubt that the Palace fans’ love for ‘Wilf’ would not wane.
The forward is worshipped in SE25. Having come through the academy, the Eagles welcomed Zaha back in following his ill-fated spell at Man Utd which left him with next to no confidence. Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce and Roy Hodgson have all tirelessly worked to turn Zaha into a genuinely world-class attacker.
Clearly, he appreciates this. Zaha will have been nervous about the reception he would receive on his return to the side, but those nerves will surely have disappeared instantly: he was given a rousing ovation by supporters as he warmed up along the touchline before coming on.
Zaha took to Instagram and Twitter to thank the fans, who are fully behind their maverick ahead of another Premier League season.
Appreciate the support today 🙏🏿 2019/20 ▶️ pic.twitter.com/Xl4syvjm5Y
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) August 10, 2019