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December 6 2021 5.39pm

Wilf interview

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View Jamesey's Profile Jamesey Flag Wandsworth 08 Jan 21 1.02pm Send a Private Message to Jamesey Add Jamesey as a friend

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Nothing is fool-proof - fools are too ingenious

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View Midlands Eagle's Profile Midlands Eagle Flag 08 Jan 21 2.08pm Send a Private Message to Midlands Eagle Add Midlands Eagle as a friend

Can't get further than:-

Wilfried Zaha has never spoken about the day he and his family became homeless - until now.

Zaha was just six when one of his...

Unless I subscribe

 

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View Ginger Pubic Wig's Profile Ginger Pubic Wig Online Flag Wickham de L'Ouest 08 Jan 21 2.16pm Send a Private Message to Ginger Pubic Wig Add Ginger Pubic Wig as a friend

Had to go to a shelter briefly aged 6, then his family was dispersed among relatives for a few days. Then back together. Talks about his charitable work.

The rest is nice writing.

 


If you want to live in a world full of kindness, respect and love, try to show these qualities.

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View Jamesey's Profile Jamesey Flag Wandsworth 08 Jan 21 4.47pm Send a Private Message to Jamesey Add Jamesey as a friend

Originally posted by Midlands Eagle

Can't get further than:-

Wilfried Zaha has never spoken about the day he and his family became homeless - until now.

Zaha was just six when one of his...

Unless I subscribe

Cut and pasted interview.


Wilfried Zaha exclusive interview: 'I was left homeless at six years old'
Crystal Palace forward speaks for first time about the day his family lost their home and how his upbringing inspired his charitable work

By
Jason Burt,
CHIEF FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT
7 January 2021 • 9:00pm
Zaha illustration
Wilfried Zaha, who recently welcomed his second child, was only six when his family lost their home in south-east London
Wilfried Zaha has never spoken about the day he and his family became homeless - until now.

Zaha was just six when one of his older brothers, Herve, collected him from Whitehorse Manor Junior School, a short walk from Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium. Straightaway, he knew something was wrong. The Zaha family lived in Rothesay Road, from where you can see the Selhurst floodlights, but Herve led his brother the other way.

“I knew my parents were struggling to make ends meet but we just didn’t go home,” Zaha explains. “I was thinking: ‘Where are we going?’ but he [Herve] was finding it hard to explain. We ended up going to this place and I thought: ‘This is not our home.’ But my whole family was there and I could tell from the mood that things were not good.”

The Zahas had decamped to a shelter, where they stayed for a few days before being dispersed among various relatives. Eventually a new house was found, in nearby South Norwood, but young Wilfried never returned to the old place. “No one ever explained to me what happened and I didn’t ask,” he admits. “When you are in that kind of situation it just is what it is. Even now I don’t know what that other house was.

“My parents must have been scrabbling around, thinking, ‘What do we do next?’ so I didn’t ask too many questions. I could just tell things were not right. At the time it was difficult, what was going on. But I have learnt not to overthink things or let them drag me down.”

Zaha has become one of English football's superstars at Palace, regularly namechecked as being among the best players outside the established elite and currently enjoying the best season of his career. And while he never returned to live at Rothesay Road, its memories have never left him: indeed, before every Crystal Palace home game he makes a point of driving past. “Just to have a look and think this is where it all started,” he says.

There were 11 of them crammed in that three-bedroom terraced house. Zaha was the youngest of six boys, who shared one bedroom, while his three sisters slept in another (Wilf is the second youngest of all).

“There was a bunk bed – one of us on top, two below, which was slightly bigger – and three sleeping on the floor,” he recalls. “Looking back it’s like: ‘How did we do that?’ but then, well, it’s hard to explain. You look back at it and think it must have been a struggle but that’s all we knew. We enjoyed the warmth of having family around us constantly.”

Family means much to Zaha, who has just become a father again with the birth of his second son, Saint. He already has a four-year-old boy, Leo. “I really welcome that responsibility,” he says. “I wake up every day and it gives me more of a purpose. Growing up I wanted to become a footballer and that was all nice but when you really have a purpose sometimes you have a rough day and then you come back home and it’s like: 'This is what I do it for’. And I would go through it a million times because these boys of mine are the reason why I work so hard.”

Wilf Zaha plus newborn son
Wilfried Zaha has found a new lease of life as a parent to two children, the latest of which is a baby boy born in November CREDIT: James Harrison
Zaha is sometimes criticised for how he reacts to adversity on a football field, and his abilities have taken time to be properly recognised outside of his adoring fanbase in south London. But in truth Zaha has always had purpose, always had drive - and empathy, too. “I have been there,” he says. “I have been that kid who had nothing and now I have the opportunity to help people, so why not?” he asks.

The 28-year-old has his own foundation, funds an orphanage run by his sister Carine in Daloa, Ivory Coast - the country of his birth which the family left when he was four - and offered free accommodation to NHS staff during the first lockdown through a property company he co-owns, something he is willing to do again.

But charity was important to Zaha long before he began earning a high-end Premier League salary. When he signed his first professional contract, aged 16, Zaha vowed to donate 10 per cent of his earnings and has done so ever since.

“It was about £500-a-week,” Zaha recalls of that initial deal. “At the time I was thinking, ‘Oh my days, this [10 per cent] is a lot’. But it was an agreement I made. Me and my mum [Delphine] would pray and say to God, ‘You have done this for me, I am going to give back.’ I have done that and it has taken me to these heights and I am happy how far I have come in my career.

Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace in action with Ben Mee of Burnley
Zaha turns Burnley's Ben Mee in 2011, his breakthrough year with Crystal Palace CREDIT: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
“My mum’s exactly the same as me. She started the charity for me from that first wage packet, with my first contract. I guess I could have spent it on, I don’t know what, but my family, especially my mum, are heavily Christian so it felt like a duty to help. I feel like my life is a testament to God helping me. One hundred per cent. So as soon as I was able to help, I helped. That’s why with everything that’s going on now if I have the opportunity to help out then it’s a no-brainer.”

Maybe so, but a lot of people still choose not to. “I know,” Zaha says. “People are just built differently. You know what I don’t really speak about it [donating a portion of his wages] but the only reason why I do is because I am asked about it. I have never done it for the accolades, for tax purposes, for nothing.

"It’s why I haven’t spoken about it much because it’s a duty for me. I have been there and I just want to help. That’s it. I am 100 per cent motivated. I do this every day for my kids, for my family and I also see how many lives I help. Every time I step on that pitch I am hungry, I am passionate about what I do.”

Delphine returned to the Ivory Coast, with Zaha helping to fund her work helping widows and providing school clothes and bags of rice and other essentials for families in need. “Nothing amazing but stuff that gets you through,” says Zaha, who also delights in the videos his sister sends him from the Tomorrow’s Hope orphanage which cares for 30 children at a time.

Football was not so much an escape as an opportunity that Zaha, who was scouted by Palace aged eight, recognised. “You know, some people think ‘I want to become a footballer for everything that comes with it’,” he says. “They see a glamorous life but they don’t see the sacrifice. From when I was young I just loved football. That’s it. I didn’t think about the whole football lifestyle. I didn’t even know anything about it. I looked at football, purely. Cars and stuff were not important. It was just the love of football and I was willing to do anything. I had tunnel vision. Nothing could steer me away from football and any sacrifices I had to make I would make.

“That tunnel vision really kicked in. I remember going to a party and there were fights so I had near misses. It could have gone either way. But it was like, 'This is your path, stay here.' It’s not like I went to many parties – and my parents were very strict with me – but I would sneak out and when I did it would be the one time when something happened! The hundreds of times when I didn’t go my friends would say: ‘You missed out on the best party ever. But I thought to myself: 'You know what? Stay in your lane and do what you are good at.'”

Wilfried Zaha of Cote d'Ivoire and Thamsanqa Mkhize of South Africa during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group D match between Cote d'Ivoire and South Africa at Al-Salam Stadium on June 24, 2019 in Cairo
Zaha plays in his secodn Africa Cup of Nations for Ivory Coast in 2019 CREDIT: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images
His eldest son, Leo, is already showing promise but Zaha is keen for him to also appreciate how fortunate he is. “I thank God he blessed me with the opportunity to be a footballer and have the things I couldn’t have as a child,” he says. “But I have to make sure my kids are level-headed and understand that the things I give them now I did not have when I was younger and that those things come from hard work. Leo got so much stuff at Christmas and when I was his age I had one toy. Four is a bit young to be telling him - and I am willing to give him the world - but he eventually needs to understand where these things come from. I will drum it into his head.”

Zaha’s father, Tiende, has fully recovered from a stroke he suffered in 2019. The pair are close, and Zaha uses their relationship as a template for his own bond with his children. “I don’t want to be in their face but I want to be someone they can approach,” he says.

Zaha has clear ambitions to expand his foundation and do more work in this country. “I used to go to ‘Kicks’ in Canterbury Road,” he says of the football sessions for children held in Croydon. “People don’t realise how much those things help. There’s this thing called ‘Legacy’ (Youth Zone) and kids can go there and do so many different activities. They pay 50p or something. It’s so important. They do dancing, boxing, football,” Zaha enthusiastically explains. “I want to grow my foundation and do things like that especially if I am able to do it in the area I grew up in. That is the dream – to get it bigger and help out the kids. Their parents know where they are, they are playing and then they go home and go to sleep because they are tired.”


So how does Zaha look back now on the experience of losing the home in Rothesay Road? “It’s just something that happened in my life and you just have to deal with things at times,” he states. “I thank God for what I have been through and it makes me appreciate more than ever what I have.”

There is just time for one more story, which shines yet more light on how Zaha has fuelled his remarkable rise.

“When I was younger, one of my brothers, who I used to live with, said: ‘Come I will show you this road.’ And we would drive around here and say: 'Look at this house and this house.' They were dream houses - and now I have managed to buy one. So how can I not give back?”

 


Nothing is fool-proof - fools are too ingenious

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View Midlands Eagle's Profile Midlands Eagle Flag 08 Jan 21 5.15pm Send a Private Message to Midlands Eagle Add Midlands Eagle as a friend

Originally posted by Jamesey

Cut and pasted interview.

Many thanks

 

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Tom-the-eagle Flag Croydon 08 Jan 21 5.36pm

Love Wilf. Very sobering reading and one that I would wish on no family.
That said, why do people have so many children when they can’t afford to feed them? It’s beyond me.

It’s as if the poorer you are, the more kids you have. You see it in council estates everywhere.

 


"It feels much better than it ever did, much more sensitive." John Wayne Bobbit

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View New Forest Eagle's Profile New Forest Eagle Flag Lymington 08 Jan 21 5.46pm Send a Private Message to New Forest Eagle Add New Forest Eagle as a friend

Anyone in to there Podcasts maybe listen to THE GREATEST GAME WITH JAMIE CARRAGHER.
This week is with Wilfred Zaha. Still quite clear he still wants to leave but a good listen none the less.

 

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View merganser's Profile merganser Flag 08 Jan 21 10.59pm Send a Private Message to merganser Add merganser as a friend

Following his 10 minutes v Wolves, he’ll be gutted to be cup-tied.

 

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View TheBigToePunt's Profile TheBigToePunt Flag 11 Jan 21 1.29pm Send a Private Message to TheBigToePunt Add TheBigToePunt as a friend

A very interesting interview. I've said it before, but anyone who thinks he wants to leave Palace just to get more money somewhere else really hasn't done their research on Zaha as a man.

Speaking as one of many who, as a child, saw their parents struggle to make ends meet, I'm always sympathetic to those who have faced the consequences of coming up short. It's to his credit that Zaha makes no reference to his experience being somehow 'unfair', just to how much of his success he attributes to hard work and how much he feels a responsibility to help others now he has made it.

Nice one Wilf.

Edited by TheBigToePunt (11 Jan 2021 1.30pm)

 

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