Manager, Roy Hodgson has iterated that Crystal Palace are “losing an iconic figure” after winger, Wilfried Zaha decided to leave for Galatasaray.
Zaha’s contract at Palace expired at the end of June and following a period of consideration of various offers, he decided to join Galatasaray on a free transfer and signed a three-year contract with the Turkish club until June 2026.
This move ends a two-decade stint at Palace in which Zaha helped the club clinch promotion to the Premier League at end of 2012-13 season, courtesy of the Championship Play-Offs in which he set up an extra-time penalty which Kevin Phillips converted to send the Eagles up at Watford’s expense.
Zaha eventually went on to score 90 goals in 458 appearances for the Reds despite having spent 2013-14 season at Manchester United in a disastrous move, where he made just four appearances for the Red Devils before he failed to score in 13 appearances at Cardiff in a loan switch that campaign.
The now 32 year-old winger returned to Palace on an initial season-long loan in August 2014 before his return was made permanent in February 2015, with Zaha ultimately becoming an integral part of Palace’s squad for the last nine years as the club consolidated their Premier League status.
Upon confirmation of Zaha’s decision not to sign a new contract and join Galatasaray in “a new chapter” of his career, Hodgson commented that the news was a “really sad” moment, having hoped “… that he would commit his future to the club and I would have the benefit of working with him again this season.”
Hodgson also issued a personal tribute to Zaha, as he said: “I would like to thank him personally for everything he did during my time as manager.
“The club is losing an iconic figure and although we regret that it has not been possible to persuade Wilfried to stay longer, we can only wish the very best of luck to him and his family in their new venture.”
Chairman, Steve Paris meanwhile hailed Zaha as Palace’s “best and most influential player.”
Parish went on to speak about Zaha’s decision, as he explained: “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.”
Reflecting upon Zaha’s impact at Selhurst Park, Parish added: “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 penned a personal farewell letter to Palace supporters and immediately reflected upon their journey over the last two decades, as he wrote: ‘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.’