Cometh the hour and a half, cometh the man.
Even some of Wilfried Zaha‘s most devout fans had acknowledged that, well, maybe the young winger had seemed a little weary, perhaps even distracted, since his stunning start to the season, which had seen him win his full England cap and a multi-million-pound transfer to Manchester United.
And going into Monday’s Championship promotion play-off second leg at Brighton, Palace looked to be up against it. Crystal Palace had been in a form slump going into the play-offs, and goals had been in short supply. They finished the league season sixth in the table, loathed rivals Brighton were third.
The 0-0 first leg had seen Brighton dominant for long spells. Going to the Amex for the second leg, Palace would be taking on the division’s meanest defence without their injured top goal scorer, Glenn Murray. So where were the goals going to come from?
Oh we of little faith…
Zaha’s 69th minute header and his more typical turn and shot two minutes from time won the game and sees Palace on the way to Wembley.
To think that it is just three years since the club was in administration, its very future in doubt. Now Zaha, a product of the club’s production line youth programme, had handed the club a healthy play-off final bonus, on top of the transfer fee agreed with Old Trafford.
By this morning, Palace had already sold 25,000 of its allocation for the play-off against Gianfranco Zola’s Watford on May 27.
And there is not a Palace fan on the planet who would not agree that for getting them there – and beating Brighton in doing so – Wilfried Zaha is Inside Croydon’s Hero of the Week. If he is able to match that performance in what will probably be his final game for Palace, he could end up being the hero of the month. Or year.
Our previous heroes…
- Who is your choice as Inside Croydon Hero of the Week?It doesn’t need to be a sporting superstar, it could be your next-door neighbour, someone who has done hard work for the community, or just some human kindness.
- Send your nominations for this prize-less accolade to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Hero of the Week” in the subject field, and no more than 200 words on why you think they deserve recognition for the actions in the previous seven days. And please include a daytime contact phone number
- Crystal Palace matchwinner Wilfried Zaha wins praise after sinking Brighton (standard.co.uk)
- Holloway raves about ‘genius’ Zaha (bbc.co.uk)