Wilfried Zaha has been shocked by his rapid rise, claims Ian Holloway

 

Wilfried Zaha may have been proclaimed as the latest saviour of English football, but Ian Holloway is worried that being in the spotlight may damage his development.

What should have been a wonderful week on the back of his call-up to the England national team for the friendly with Sweden turned slightly sour when they precocious 20-year-old found that being the centre of attention was a little too much for him.

A headline-grabbing quote in which he said that only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are superior to him does not, according to Holloway, correctly portray Zaha's character.

The Crystal Palace winger was suddenly the most talked about man in football, with his looming decision of whether to play for England or the Ivory Coast, the land of his birth, becoming a dominant issue in the game.

"I think this has been a shock to him," explained Holloway. "It's a very difficult time for him at the moment as everything has happened at once.

"Some things have been said about him which aren't true – he wasn't hungry as a kid for example, and he has eight brothers and sisters, rather than seven.

"He isn't a confident young man. He is a very sheltered and quiet boy, and Dougie [Freedman, Holloway's predecessor] has done a great job in holding him back and not allowing him to answer questions. He doesn't want to talk about football, he just wants to play it.

"It's a crying shame the world doesn't know what Wilf is like but they will; he is honest, hard-working and a lovely kid. He comes from Croydon, he was born in a different country and is very proud of that country and he is a wonderful player who is improving. We have to protect him in a way where his innocence shines through."

Speaking after the 3-0 win over Derby County at home that keeps Palace top of the Championship, Holloway hoped the knock-on effect of Roy Hodgson's decision to give Zaha six minutes at the end of Wednesday's 4-2 defeat by Sweden could be that the youngster decides to stay in January, rather than being swallowed up by an Arsenal, Manchester United or Manchester City.

The club's owners say that offers of £20m may be rejected – and why should they consider accepting a bid for the best player in the Championship when promotion is valued at £100m? – and Holloway believes he can start to plan for the future with Zaha in his side. We have as good a chance of any side in this division of going up," he said.

"I had a chat with Wilf about this on Friday morning and it's all about the platform he has to play here with the team around him. No one can do anything on their own and Wilf knows that. He didn't get that call-up because he was so outstanding he does it on his own.

"I think he is at the right place. He will be good enough to have some choices, but that doesn't mean Palace won't be one of them. It is a fantastic place to be, and there is a contract that almost locks him in – though it's about his development."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'