Wilfried Zaha is Crystal Palace's best ever talent - Mark Bright

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport
Zaha scores stunner against Wolves

Wilfried Zaha is the biggest talent to emerge from Crystal Palace since Arsenal legend Ian Wright, according to BBC Sport pundit Mark Bright.

Bright played with Wright at Palace and now helps out as a coach at the club.

Zaha, 20, has been called up by England for Wednesday's friendly in Sweden and Bright says the winger could be even better than his former team-mate.

"Potential-wise Wilfried represents the biggest talent to come from the Palace youth system," he said.

"He is probably the best prospect we [Palace] have had in terms of what he could go on to achieve."

Bright and Wright formed one of the top-flight's most dangerous partnerships during their spell at Palace and helped the Selhurst Park club to finish as FA Cup runners-up in 1990.

Wright went on to join Arsenal in 1991 and scored 185 goals for the Gunners in 279 appearances, while he also earned 33 England caps with a tally of nine international goals.

Zaha is a transfer target for several Premier League clubs and Bright knows him well.

"He has the potential to make as big an impact as Ian," said Bright. "He is a little bit different like Ian was. Ian wasn't a winger as he played through the middle.

"Wrighty was 23 when he turned pro. Wilfried has played more than 100 games in the league and he's got an England call-up.

"You have to say just by those numbers that at his age he is a better player than Ian Wright, who went on to great success. I'm sure Wilfried wants to make his mark as well."

Zaha's performances in helping Palace to the top of the Championship have brought him to the attention of England boss Roy Hodgson, but the forward could still opt to play for Ivory Coast as the game against Sweden is a friendly.

However, Bright believes the youngster is starting to fulfil the potential those at Palace see in him and that Zaha can also handle his rapid rise.

"In my opinion, Wilfried is the most exciting player outside the Premier League," said Bright, who also played for Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton.

"He played in the League Cup last season at Manchester United. Palace won with a Darren Ambrose screamer and Wilfried gave Rafael a torrid time and they took him off."

He continued: "I was talking to the fitness coach at Palace and Wilfried is among the fittest and quickest.

"That's quite rare in terms of football because you are looking at someone who is a marathon runner as well as a sprinter. His rate of recovery is very quick.

"His ability to run fast with the ball is excellent, he can go past players left or right, he can play left or right wing or through the middle and, if you allow him to turn and face you, then you will have a problem if you haven't got back up because he will show you the ball and take it past you."

He added: "All the talk over the past few days has been about Wilfried but I don't think for one minute that it will go to his head."

Bright did say that Zaha was regretting comments he made in a newspaper interview with the Guardianexternal-link and Daily Mailexternal-link and the impression he might have given.

In the interview Zaha is quoted as saying: "I'd never look at someone and think he's better than me, unless it's Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. When I get on the pitch it's my time."

The winger has since tweeted on his official account:external-link "My words were absolutely twisted and taken the wrong way in my last interview. But I will learn from this and explain in further detail what I mean when I make certain statements."

Holloway on 'magnificent' Zaha

Bright said: "He's done a couple of interviews in the papers and speaking to him by text I know he's very concerned that he's come across in an arrogant way and talking down opponents. He never meant it to come across like that.

"He's a little unhappy with how he's been portrayed as some kind of young and arrogant kid who doesn't care for anybody or their reputation. But it's not the case. He is a respectful person.

"Some of the Palace players are probably going to rip him to shreds when he goes back to the club. They will probably have those articles cut out and stuck by where he gets changed on his return.

"It's not him. He's very humble."

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