‘‘I’d never look at someone and think he’s better than me, unless it’s Ronaldo or Messi. ‘When I get on the pitch it’s my time. I’ve not really come up against a defender yet where I’ve thought: “What can I really do to go past him?”
Those were the words of Wilfried Zaha in November that caused a mini-stir among many who misunderstood his words as utter arrogance rather than a clear show of self-confidence boosting; which he of course later clarified.
However while of course right now those comments are not entirely true he has convinced me at least that he has the definite potential to be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo (not quite Messi).
It may sound rather fanciful considering the nature of Zaha’s career so far but the similarities between the two are certainly there to be seen. For instance while right now Zaha is being used mainly as a winger his future could also be as a more central player. At 20-years-old you feel he still has some bulking out to do before he can play through the middle but he possesses the qualities necessary to play in that role.
Zaha and Ronaldo are both incredible athletes. You look at Ronaldo and feel that if he didn’t choose football then he would be playing in the NBA, running track or playing wing in Rugby Union and the same should be said about Zaha. Being tall and physically explosive is one thing but Ronaldo also has the technical proficiency to go with it. We remember the constant stepovers when Ronaldo first arrived in the UK but that is not what I mean. It is his general ball control and manipulation that makes him such a great and even at a young age Zaha seems to have this shared commodity.
The other factor, and perhaps the most important of them all, is the youngsters’ confidence and self-belief. What may border on arrogance should not be considered a bad thing. His career so far does not read much different to the first three years of Ronaldo’s except for the clubs with which he has played. Now at Manchester United he is going to get the same football education as the destined for greatness Portuguese and if nurtured right the £15 million will end up looking like a snip.
Now let’s hope he doesn’t end up playing for Ivory Coast.
Do you think Zaha can be as good as Ronaldo?
images: © jamesboyes