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UCL: Zaha called Man United spell ‘hell’, Ferguson ‘never spoke to him’

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Wilfred Zaha signed for the Turkish champions this summer, leaving boyhood club Crystal Palace and bringing an end to his 11 years at the club that was split across two spells.

In between those two spells of being adored by the Selhurst Park faithful was two years at Man United.

This year marks 10 years since the Ivory Coast-born star made his £10m move to Old Trafford in the season the Red Devils won their last Premier League title.

Zaha, who had been tearing it up in the Championship with Palace in the first half of the 2012/13 season, had caught the eye of Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson, the son of Man United’s legendary boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.

It wasn’t long before Palace had agreed to sell their superstar winger, who was just 20 at the time, to the Red Devils, with Zaha returning on loan for the rest of the season to help the Eagles win promotion to the Premier League.

But the buzz of promotion and a big move to Man United soon wore off for Zaha, who had no idea Ferguson, the man who wanted him, was leaving his new club that summer.

Zaha’s future Palace boss Neil Warnock told talkSPORT Breakfast last year: “I signed him [back] when I went to Crystal Palace. He’s always loved there. I would have liked to see him go to another top club.

“When he came back to me when I re-signed him. I remember talking to him in the chairman’s office.

But the following season didn’t go as planned for him
“I said to him, ‘Did you get on alright with Sir Alex?’ He said, ‘He never spoke to me once’.

“He was only a young lad and went there and didn’t get a lot of help.”

The arrival of David Moyes spelt trouble for Zaha, too.

With minimal game time and having to live alone in Manchester, the former England youth international has since explained just how tough it was for him, even describing his situation as ‘hell’.

Speaking to Shortlist, 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?”

Zaha was played in pre-seasons, but barely played any competitive minutes for Man United
Zaha says he was never given a chance by Ferguson’s successors

“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.”

Former Man United defender and Zaha’s ex-teammate Rio Ferdinand has also revealed since that he felt he should’ve done more and put an arm round the new arrival.

Despite wanting to return to Palace on loan, Moyes shipped Zaha to ex-Man United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff. But Zaha’s career didn’t improve there, either, with him recording just one assist as the Bluebirds went down bottom of the league.

By the time he returned, Moyes had been replaced by Louis van Gaal, who, after telling Zaha he would have to adapt to play as a centre forward to keep his hopes of getting in the team alive, eventually informed Zaha that he should find another club.

“I was so relieved,” Zaha told the OnTheJudy podcast in 2020. “I was thinking, ‘Thank you for telling me straight and letting me restart my career’.”

In total, the Palace legend made just four appearances for Man United, scoring no goals and registering no assists in that time.

However, his return to Palace, first on loan and then permanently, saw his career come back to life. In total, he recorded a whopping 90 goals and 76 assists in 458 appearances for his boyhood team and is very much seen as one of the club’s greatest ever players.

He’s been back to Man United 15 times since, winning four of the clashes against them. However, he insists he holds no grudges over the club, despite the struggles he faced there.

Palace more than cemented his status as a Palace legend on his return

“Obviously Manchester United’s a team that I was at before, I played for them before a long, long time ago,” Zaha said at Old Trafford. “Ten years forward, I’m 30 years old. I feel like I’ve matured in my game, I am at a big club, Galatasaray.

“I think with the help of the manager or the team we have, we have a lot of talent, a lot of experience, so, yeah, I think we’re ready for the game tomorrow.

“Obviously they’ve got a good team but at the same time we’ve got players who can hurt them as well, so me personally I’m looking forward to the game.”

Asked if what happened to him at United bothers him, Zaha said: “I’ll be honest, when you look at my face do you think I am bothered at all? No.

“Realistically I think I went through a phase where you either build from it or you die out from it. And me personally, I was never going to die out from it.

“It built my character for me to just continue my career because I was determined to not let my career die out because I went somewhere and it didn’t work out. I was just determined to reach where I wanted to reach and I am here today.”

Zaha opened his account for Galatasaray over the weekend, scoring in the 2-1 win over Ankaragucu. His goal was the epitome of what Sir Alex was likely to have been sold by all those years ago when he made Zaha his last ever signing.

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 Lamine Yamal gets new jersey number at Barcelona

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Hours after reports emerged regarding Lamine Yamal’s new shirt number at Barcelona, the club have officially confirmed that the teenage sensation will wear the No. 19 jersey next season.

The 17-year-old wonderkid wore No. 27 last season as he was still with a youth contract at the club.

But earlier this month, Barça confirmed his official registration as a first-team member with La Liga, which warranted a new squad number for the youngster.

There were speculations that Yamal could wear the No. 10 shirt but he has opted against it out of respect for Ansu Fati, who is back at Barça after a loan stint.

There was talk of him taking the No. 17 shirt vacated after Marcos Alonso’s exit, but Yamal has opted for No. 19 – a shirt that a certain Lionel Messi also wore in the early stages of his career at Barcelona.

Vitor Roque wore it briefly last season after arriving in January. Prior to that, players like Franck Kessie, Ferran Torres, Sergio Aguero, and Martin Braithwaite donned the No. 19 kit.

Yamal wore No. 19 with the Spanish national team as they won the UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany last week and will now wear it with the club as well.

With Yamal now taking over the No. 19 kit, Roque will have to change his shirt number, provided that he stays amid rumours of a departure.

 

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Luka Modric, 38, signs new Real Madrid contract

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Real Madrid extended Luka Modric’s contract on Wednesday, bringing the Croatia midfielder back for a 13th season with the club.

Madrid said it and Modric agreed to extend the player’s contract until June 2025.

One of Madrid’s captains, Modric didn’t play as often as a starter this season but is expected to have a greater role in Carlo Ancelotti’s midfield after the retirement of Toni Kroos.

He has won 26 titles with Madrid, the most in club history along with defender Nacho Fernández. Among those are six Champions Leagues and four Spanish leagues.

“Modric arrived at Real Madrid in 2012, and in his 12 seasons representing our shirt he has become a Real Madrid and world football legend,” Madrid said.

Modric won won the Ballon d’Or, the FIFA Player of the Year Award and was named UEFA Player of the Year in 2018, when he led Croatia to a runner-up finish at the World Cup.

Modric has made 178 appearances with Croatia and is the nation’s all-time record-holder for international caps. He has made 534 appearances for Madrid, having scored 39 goals.

 

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Inside Gareth Southgate’s decision to quit as England boss after Euro 2024 nightmare

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Albeit briefly, there was a theory that Gareth Southgate might stay on after all.‌ Let’s not forget this was the manager who had led England

Albeit briefly, there was a theory that Gareth Southgate might stay on after all.

‌Let’s not forget this was the manager who had led England to their first ever major final on foreign soil and the Football Association were desperate for him to remain in charge. And then came the fall-out. You would have to have been marooned on Mars to have avoided it.

The anger, bile and disappointment in the wake of England’s defeat in the Euros final. There was no way back. Southgate had insisted he was going to talk things through with his family on Monday night as he was in no mood to make a snap decision.

By 11am on Tuesday, the farewell statements were issued. Never mind that Southgate, in his eight years in charge, had gone to the latter stages of more tournaments than Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle combined.

‌Or that Southgate had won nine knockout games during his tenure when England had won a grand total of seven in their previous years. England expects. And that is why they call it the Impossible Job.

No manager since Sir Alf Ramsey has come closer to ending 58 years of hurt than Southgate. England’s men have won just one major trophy – the 1966 World Cup at Wembley – and yet they were expected to play Spain off the park, win it in style and then lift the World Cup in two years’ time.

Instead, Southgate was accused of being over cautious, restricting world class talents like Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Phil Foden and holding England back. Holding them back? They have quickly forgotten the failures of the Golden Generation when Sven Goran Eriksson could not get past the quarter final stage with Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Gary Neville, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

‌The players who flopped in major tournaments in the 1970s, 80s and 90s are the same ones who are now on TV slamming Southgate. This has been a golden era for England under Southgate. But, in reality, Southgate should have gone after Qatar. That was in his head.

It turned sour after Hungary in the Nations League at Molineux. He nearly announced in the autumn of 2022 he was going after the World Cup – and changed his mind. He then did soul searching after Qatar, thought about going and then decided to stay.

‌Looking at his body language in Germany, he was every bit as tired and exhausted as some of his players in the Euros. Just look at the season Declan Rice has had. Was he at his best? Of course not. He was shattered.

‌The same goes for Southgate who had reached the end of his tether. Going into the tournament, those around the camp felt he was going come what may. Then the conversation was that if he won it, he might yet stay on and oversee the World Cup.

That proved to be hypothetical in the end. But I think he would have quit even if they had won the Euros. Or, put another way, especially if they had won the Euros. What a chance to say: thanks, we did it – and now two fingers up to you lot!

The England job is so tough and unforgiving. Even in his departure, Southgate showed class by singling out the England fans – some of them have pilloried him, others have chucked beer cups and yet, ultimately, we are all them. Including Southgate.

‌Southgate said in his statement : “We have the best fans in the world, and their support has meant the world to me. I’m an England fan and I always will be. I look forward to watching and celebrating as the players go on to create more special memories and to connect and inspire the nation as we know they can.”

‌Southgate has done a remarkable job in his 102 games in charge. Summed up in his statement as he bid his farewells.‌ He added: “I have had the privilege of leading a large group of players in 102 games.

“Every one of them has been proud to wear the Three Lions on their shirts, and they have been a credit to their country in so many ways. The squad we took to Germany is full of exciting young talent and they can win the trophy we all dream of.

‌“I am so proud of them, and I hope we get behind the players and the team at St. George’s Park and The FA who strive every day to improve English football, and understand the power football has to drive positive change.”

-Mirror Football

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