Wilfried Zaha has hit back at England manager Gareth Southgate for what he perceived as an attack on his “desire” and “passion” to play for the country.
Zaha recently declared his international loyalty to the country of his birth, the Ivory Coast, despite being capped twice by the Three Lions.
The Crystal Palace winger appeared in two friendlies for England, but was allowed to change allegiances because he had never played a competitive game.
Southgate discussed the situation earlier in the week, but Zaha has released a statement through his representative, Will Salthouse of Unique Sports Management, questioning the manager’s terminology.
“In light of recent comments and reports questioning Wilfried’s desire or passion to play for England I feel it’s important to set the record straight,” the statement read. “Wilfried did not impose a timescale or set a date by which he had to be selected by England, there was no ‘disappearing egg timer’. The ‘private’ meeting with Mr Southgate was very amicable.
“However the fact remains that Wilfried made his decision to play for the Ivory Coast prior to Mr Southgate being appointed interim and subsequently permanent England manager.
“It was Wilfried’s personal choice and it was his right as a senior player to accept the opportunity to represent his nation of birth and that of his family heritage. His ‘desire’ or ‘passion’ should never have been publicly questioned for making that decision.
“Wilfried is very proud of his family and very proud to represent the Ivory Coast, most recently demonstrated by his performance against Russia.”