Former Manchester United midfielder, Wilfried Zaha, has opted to play for the Ivorian national team instead of the English side.
The 24-year-old was eligible for Ivory Coast (the ‘‘Elephants’‘) and for England (’‘Three Lions’‘) even though he had previously played for the English side at youth level and twice for the Three Lions.
He currently plays for Crystal Palace in the English Premier League (PL) and is reported to have submitted a request to FIFA to swap allegiance. His two games for England were in friendly fixtures which allows him to switch.
The Ivorian Football Federation posted a message on his website with respect to the development. ‘‘Wilfried Zaha has decided to play for the Elephants, under the colours of Ivory Coast, the country of his origin,’‘ the statement read in part.
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has decided to switch his international allegiance to Ivory Coast from England. pic.twitter.com/ZMhmGNV2LY— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) November 28, 2016
Zaha would be eligible for the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon. If selected he will miss up to six weeks for his club side depending on how far Ivory Coast progress in the competition.
His club manager, Alan Pardew, who has expressed concerns about loss of African players to the biennial tournament said on Friday that Zaha had been “pushed forward, probably by his agent or people around him” to make the change but could “understand his frustration” at not being picked for England.
Zaha broke into the Crystal Palace first team from their academy in 2010. In January 2013, he moved to Manchester United for an initial fee of £10 million, but remained on loan at Palace until the end of the season, helping them return to the Premier League.
After an unsuccessful 2013–14 season with Manchester United (partly spent on loan at Cardiff City), Zaha returned to Palace in August 2014 on a season-long loan, before rejoining the club on a permanent basis in February 2015.
Born in the Ivory Coast, Zaha grew up in England from the age of four. He made his debut for the England national team in 2012.