Thornton Heath, Stormzy and me: Palace’s Zaha on charity

Crystal Palace’s star player, Wilfried Zaha, has spoken out about his charity work and of growing up in Thornton Heath with rapper Stormzy.

Sound man: Wilf Zaha

In an interview published on the Crystal Palace club website, Zaha, 29, explained how through their faith and background, he and the music superstar have both been “giving back” to the communities from where they come.

Zaha, who is paid nearly £7million per year, has been giving up 10per cent of his salary since he started to be on a Premier League player’s contract a decade ago, with the money going towards an orphanage run by his sister and now a south London-based football academy.

It is something similar to the charitable foundation established by Stormzy which has, among other things, paid for a kids’ Christmas party at the Fairfield Halls and funds university courses at Cambridge for dozens of under-privileged youngsters.

Stormzy, Zaha says, “is just a friend from the area really”.

“I’ve watched his growth from just putting videos out on YouTube, no one paying attention and me being his friend.

“Obviously I had a bit of a platform so I thought: ‘Yeah, people need to check him out’. So it’s nice to see, but he’s just a friend from the area.

Scholar and a gentleman: Stormzy’s foundation is helping 30 black teens go to Cambridge University

“I’ve grown in Thornton Heath and he’s grown up in Thornton Heath and we’ve got so many mutual friends as well.

“We’re both heavily into giving back and we both believe in God, and so it’s like God has blessed us with the opportunity and we each like to help out.

“Since I started playing when I got a proper, decent contract I’ve been giving 10per cent of my wages back.

“My sister has got an orphanage but I kind of take care of it, so it comes under the umbrella of my foundation.

“It takes care of orphans, it takes care of widows with kids if they can’t afford school clothes or school equipment. I’ve tried my best to do what I can.

“I’ve got a little football academy that I’ve started here. Kids can come down and just enjoy playing football. It’s every half-term or Easter break. Every now and then I’ll pop by to see the kids as well.

“I think compared to other people’s academies it’s just started, but I know the possibilities are endless. Hopefully I can get massive and loads of kids go there.”

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