Crystal Palace pay tribute as Zaha departure is confirmed

25 Jul 2023
Zaha, Palace

Academy product who played over 450 times for the club departs for Galatasaray

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Crystal Palace have paid tribute to Wilfried Zaha after his long association with the south London club came to an end with his move to Galatasaray.

Zaha grew up near to Selhurst Park and joined Palace's academy at the age of eight. He took part in the club foundation's Premier League Kicks programme before making his debut at the age of 17.

The winger played over 450 times for the club and departs the Premier League as one of the most entertaining players in the competition's history.

“Wilfried Zaha leaves the club having been our best and most influential player," Palace chairman Steve Parish told the club's official website. "As much as we would have loved him to stay, after long discussions it became clear he wanted a different challenge, to experience something new and somewhere different before the end of his career, and I think that’s something we can all understand.

“I would like to personally thank Wilfried for everything he has done for this football club. He leaves as our most capped Academy graduate, our talisman, our greatest player, and he leaves lifelong friends behind. He remains a true inspiration for all our young players in the Academy and at the early stages of their Palace career - all of whom dream of being the next Zaha.

“We would not be the club we are today without Wilfried. We are entering our 11th consecutive season in the top flight, and he has spearheaded the vast majority of those campaigns. A phenomenal player, who gave us incredible moments on the pitch and worked hard in the community helping inspire people off it, he will be treasured in all of our memories.

“Good luck, Wilfried, I like many Palace fans will watch from afar and wish you every success on your new adventure.”

Zaha also gave much to the local community, returning to see his old Premier League Kicks coaches and promoting other programmes being carried out by the Palace for Life Foundation

Zaha visits Premier League Kicks
Zaha used to play at this very Kicks project himself near to the Palace ground
Zaha visits Premier League Kicks
In 2016 Zaha revisited his old stomping ground in Thornton Heath, where he did Premier League Kicks with one of the Palace for Life Kicks coaches
Zaha's message to Palace fans

"As I start a new chapter I want to speak to you Palace fans who mean so much to me," Zaha said in an emotional letter to Palace fans.

"We have been through so much together, including 10 years in the Prem. There are loads of amazing memories that will stay in my head forever and also some really tough times along the way, but I'm so proud to have played my part in getting us to the Prem and helping to keep us there.

"I've been wearing the Palace shirt since I was eight years old, it's literally been my second skin and I always gave EVERYTHING when I wore it.

"You have all seen me angry and frustrated, but you've also seen my hunger and passion and the joy that I take from winning, and I hope that is the memory that lives on in the minds of Palace fans.

"I grew up two roads away from the bright lights and loud crowds of Selhurst Park, having no idea that I would be at the centre of it all one day, and have the amazing journey I have had with this amazing club.

"So I would say to my eight-year-old self, dream BIG and only you can kill your dream.

"I want to thank Steve Parish, all of my teammates, coaches and the entire Palace fanbase for always believing in me and encouraging me to get where I am today. I have been blessed to play in front of you and call you family from the day you accepted me.

"From the bottom of my heart, I'm forever grateful."

Everyone at the Premier League wishes Zaha the best of luck in his new adventure.

See: Summer 2023 transfers

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