Wilfried Zaha has released a statement questioning England manager Gareth Southgate’s comments over the player’s unwillingness to play for the Three Lions instead of his country of birth.
Southgate said recently he regretted not being able to convince the Crystal Palace striker to reject the overtures of the Ivory Coast to become a full England international – having played for the country's u19 and u21 sides, while also playing in two senior friendly England matches.
Zaha, who chose to represent the Ivory Coast, released a statement through his representative, Will Salthouse of Unique Sports Management, to address Southgate's comments over the player's "desire or passion to play for England".
Part of the statement read: "In light of recent comments and reports questioning Wilfried’s desire or passion to play for England I feel it’s important to set the record straight,” the statement read. “Wilfried did not impose a timescale or set a date by which he had to be selected by England, there was no ‘disappearing egg timer’. The ‘private’ meeting with Mr Southgate was very amicable.
“However the fact remains that Wilfried made his decision to play for the Ivory Coast prior to Mr Southgate being appointed interim and subsequently permanent England manager.
“It was Wilfried’s personal choice and it was his right as a senior player to accept the opportunity to represent his nation of birth and that of his family heritage. His ‘desire’ or ‘passion’ should never have been publicly questioned for making that decision.
“Wilfried is very proud of his family and very proud to represent the Ivory Coast, most recently demonstrated by his performance against Russia.”