Zaha: Man Utd made me feel worthless

The 22-year-old was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing but made only three first-team appearances during his time at Old Trafford

Wilfried Zaha admits he felt “worthless” during his time at Manchester United and believes he lost respect by constantly sitting in the stands at Old Trafford.

The 22-year-old was Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing at United, joining in a £15 million deal from Crystal Palace.

But following the arrival of David Moyes as Ferguson’s successor, Zaha failed to secure a regular first-team place and made just three first-team appearances before joining Cardiff City on loan during last year’s January transfer window.

“There is nothing worse than not being involved,” Zaha told the Daily Telegraph.

‘You are sitting there thinking ‘what exactly am I? A footballer who is not playing football?’ You feel a bit worthless sitting in the stands, watching all the time. You have nothing to speak about with the players.

“If you have played the game then it’s ‘well done’ or ‘you should have passed here or there’. But when you haven’t played, I think people lose a bit of respect for you. I think they are thinking ‘well, he’s not played’. They don’t have anything to speak to you about. It’s a big thing.

“And I’m frustrated when I am not playing. My family is frustrated. My friends are frustrated.

“It was difficult when it came to a game at United and they were asking me for tickets and asking ‘are you playing?’ and that used to cut deep because I would think: ‘I can’t just invite my family’ because I had that doubt in my head as to whether I was even going to be in the squad.

“They would come to United and I would be in the stands. Now I am just able to say ‘here’s tickets. I am starting the game’. I am happy again.”

Zaha returned to Old Trafford last summer but after failing to come off the bench in the 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup in August, the midfielder was keen to secure his return to Crystal Palace.

“I went down there and didn’t play at all,” said Zaha.

“There were reserves who came on and I thought ‘I can’t just sit here and not be given a chance’. I had worked so hard to get there and hadn’t been told why I wasn’t playing.

“Eventually I spoke to Louis van Gaal and he said that right now I wasn’t good enough to get into the first team and I put my hands up and thought ‘no problem, I will go on loan’. I’d rather he told me. Before that it was just rumours and here was a straight answer. I appreciated that and so I came back to Palace.”

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