Wilfried Zaha has admitted he felt ‘worthless’ during his two-year spell as a Manchester United player after his dream move to Old Trafford turned sour.
The 22-year-old winger was signed by then Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson in January 2013 from Crystal Palace for £10million.
But the terms of the transfer saw him loaned straight back to the Eagles for the remainder of the season and he did not arrive at Old Trafford until the summer, by which time Ferguson had retired and been replaced by David Moyes.
During a disastrous campaign for the club under Moyes, Zaha made just four United appearances before playing out the second half of last season at Cardiff.
‘There is nothing worse than not being involved,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. ‘You are sitting there thinking ‘what exactly am I? A footballer who is not playing football?’ You feel a bit worthless sitting in the stands, watching all the time. You have nothing to speak about with the players.
‘If you have played the game then it’s “well done” or “you should have passed here or there”. But when you haven’t played… I think people lose a bit of respect for you. I think they are thinking ‘well, he’s not played’. They don’t have anything to speak to you about. It’s a big thing.’
‘There were so many rumours about me that were not true. And they hurt me because all I was doing was keeping my head down to do my best every time and then after training I’d go home and there would be something in the paper or wherever about me not having a good attitude and that’s why I wasn’t playing, rumours about my private life and that’s why I wasn’t playing, me turning up late for this, turning up late for that.’
Zaha revealed the last straw came when he was left on the bench against League One outfit MK Dons as United crashed out of the Capital One Cup 4-0 last August.
Eventually he spoke to new United boss Louis Van Gaal, who confirmed that he wasn't part of his first-team plans and so he headed back on a season-long loan deal to Palace, where he flourished under Alan Pardew, and the deal was made permanent in February this year.