The tug-of-war between England and Ivory Coast over Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha looks to be at an end, as the highly rated 20-year-old has turned down the chance to represent Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations in January, and has chosen instead to accept a call-up to England’s international squad to face Sweden today.
Zaha, who was born in Abidjan and moved to England at the age of 4, is eligible to play for both countries. He has told family and friends that he plans to wait and see if coach Roy Hodgson continues to select him next year before committing to either country. Even if Zaha plays for England today, he will not be tied to the Three Lions, as a player only becomes tied to a country after playing in a competitive match for its senior team. Tonight’s clash with Sweden is a friendly. Either way, the player must make his decision before his 21st birthday.
Meanwhile, Hodgson has said it is an “honor” to play for England and that all prospective players should regard a call-up as such. "It is very simple for me. England, for me, is very important,” Hodgson told reporters. “To be asked to play for England is a major honor and a major feather in people's caps. I am not interested in people who are deciding whether England is where they want to be or whether they want to be somewhere else.”
He added: "I spoke to [Wilfried] before he joined up. I explained to him we were interested in him, but only if he was interested in us. He assured me he was.”