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



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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Egypt Confirm As Host Of 2027 African Games




The Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) awarded Egypt the hosting rights for the 2027 African Games, the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports announced on Tuesday morning.

The African Games, formally known as the All-Africa Games or the Pan African Games, are a continental multi-sport event held every four years.

The announcement was made by ANOCA on Monday, in which they confirmed that the 2027 African Games would be the African qualifiers for the LA 2028 Olympic Games.

Six-time winners of the tournament, Egypt, previously hosted the African Games once in 1991, winning the title at the time.

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3rd Ikpeba Football Challenge Warri ‘2023 begins Dec. 20




The 3rd edition of the Victor Ikpeba Football Challenge Warri ‘2023 has been scheduled to hold at the Army Children, School, Effurun, Warri, Delta State from Thursday December 20 to Saturday, 22, 2023.

According to the General Coordinator of the event, Mr. Dapo Sotuminu, the sponsor and initiator of the grassroot tournament, the 1997 African Footballer of The Year, Victor Ikpeba, the champion’s prize for the Ikpeba 2023 Football Challenge has been increased to two hundred and fifty thousand (N250,000). The winners, aside from the cash prize will also be presented with a giant trophy and gold medals.

While the first runners up will go home with a cash prize of N125,000, silver trophy and silver medals, while the third placed team will go home with N100,000, a trophy and bronze medals. And the fourth placed team N75,000.

Four individual awards will be presented to the best players in the tournament : the Most Valuable Player, Best Defender, Best Goalkeeper and Highest Goal Scorer will all be presented with plagues.

The four semi final teams will be presented with the Victor Ikpeba Football Tournament branded / customised jerseys.

The initiator of the tournament, Victor Ikpeba, noted that, the increased prize monies, were approved to further encourage the youth players’ participants in the tournament and also ensure that the players have a wonderful Christmas celebration.

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Football Stakeholders commit to FIFA’s new initiatives for talent discovery




There was palpable enthusiasm and avowed commitment to new initiatives on talent discovery and nurturing as a stakeholder workshop on FIFA Talent Development Scheme took Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja by storm on Thursday.

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi opened the workshop by expounding on the theme, saying the FIFA Talent Development Scheme is designed to discover football talents from the grassroots, which is truly a key component of the vision of the Ibrahim Musa Gusau-led NFF administration. “This is a welcome development for Federations like our own that are interested in growing the game from the grassroots. This workshop has the objective of enlightening all stakeholders on the scheme and to let them know the various aspects in which they have to support the Federation and where the Federation will support them.”

Dignitaries and stakeholders included a representative of Sports Development Minister, Senator John Enoh; Director General of the National Institute for Sports, Professor Olawale Morounkola; Member of the House Committee on Sports, Hon. Aminu Balele Kurfi; President of the NFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau; NFF’s two vice presidents Chief Felix Anyansi Agwu and Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye; Chairman of NFF Technical Committee, Alhaji Sharif Rabiu Inuwa; former NFF Board Member, High Chief Emeka Inyama; representatives of chairmen of the Senate Committee on Sports in both houses of the National Assembly; chairmen and secretaries of the State Football Associations; NFF Management and Staff; eminent coaches; former Nigeria international players including Dr. Olusegun Odegbami; former General Secretaries of the NFF Ambassador Fanny Amun and Barr. Musa Amadu; chieftains of the various Leagues; Super Falcons’ captain Onome Ebi; proprietors of leading football academies; sports marketing gurus and; prominent media personalities.

Gusau used the opportunity to espouse his Vision 2030 with so much passion and assurance, and charged the stakeholders that they no longer have any option than to do the hard lifting of discovering talent from the grassroots and nurturing them, with world football-governing body, FIFA’s decision to organize annually the FIFA U17 World Cup (male and female) from the year 2025.

“You can now see that we have no alternative to doing the hard work, and to do the work we have been elected to do with great energy, enthusiasm and diligence. The ethos of discipline, dedication and integrity must be enthroned, and we must commit to eliminating the scourge of age cheating at youth level.”

FIFA High Performance specialists Abdul Faisal Chibsah and Amit Desai expatiated further on the scheme, and pledged that FIFA will monitor the scheme globally for sincerity, credibility and sustainability.

NFF Technical Director and former Nigeria captain and coach, Augustine Eguavoen, explained the NFF’s long-term talent discovery plan and its strategic focus areas.

Odegbami, as well as Professor Morounkola, Coaches Isah Ladan Bosso and Sam John Obuh as well as former NFF scribes Amun and Amadu reported the positions of breakout groups, with emphasis on discovering truly young talents that will be nurtured through a sustainable process to keep Nigeria at the top of the global tree in U17 football.

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