Having been called up for England, the young forward has come a long way since his 2010 debut for Crystal Palace
With Manchester United ready to pounce for Palace starlet Wilfried Zaha, we asked our Crystal Palace expert Ed Malyon to give us the lowdown on the hottest player in the Championship.
"He looks about twelve," comments one supporter in the Holmesdale stand as a gangly, youthful striker takes to the field for Crystal Palace.
His shorts are pulled high above the waist, his shirt billows with excess polycotton yet his boots are electric blue. The boots, it will later emerge, are new. Bought for him as a present by his manager when it was decided that his shabby old black ones simply weren't fit for him to be making his professional debut in.
He touched the ball perhaps six times, but this brief 10-minute cameo was one of exciting promise - although whether this youngster's substitute appearance had come about because of his unique talent, or because of the club's perilous financial state was still unclear. After all, every player on the Eagles' substitute bench that day was an academy product, the oldest just 20 years-old.
This particular youngster was Wilfried Zaha, and once his club had survived a financial near-apocalypse in the approaching summer he would prove that he had made his bow for all the right reasons, going on to establish himself as a regular in the first team, just as many of the club's academy graduates had before.
Zaha though, is very much a one-of-a-kind player. Immediate comparisons were inevitably drawn to Victor Moses, with both players being exciting wingers capable of being the central frontman, but as is often the case with these lazy parallels it is wide of the mark.
Moses is an exciting prospect, but an entirely different proposition to the player that Palace fans affectionately refer to as 'Wilf'. While the two players are of similar height, the Chelsea winger is of broad-shouldered build, with a languid, slow-motion dribbling style where he seems to almost drag and slide the ball past players.
Zaha on the other hand, is a spindly, darting little winger. Fast and incisive, but forced to bend with and skip over challenges that Moses would simply bounce off or ride. Where Zaha's strength lies is in his ability to beat a man one-on-one - and that's the principal reason for his call-up to the England squad.
To many, it may seem that Roy Hodgson has added the Palace star to this week's team simply to prevent him being convinced to play for the Ivory Coast, something that the Elephants were very keen on for January's African Cup of Nations. However, Hodgson told Zaha in his phone call this weekend that he sees him as a very real part of his World Cup 2014 plans, considering there to be few players anywhere in England (perhaps Europe) that are better at taking on - and beating - a man.
The youngster's array of skills are to be marvelled at. When the Brazilian, Ronaldinho, was at the height of his powers he was asked a question in an interview about his dazzling variety of stepovers and tricks, and how he performed them. "They just happen," he said, "they are natural".
With Zaha it is the same. His footwork and shift of balance are sublime, but the speed at which they happen suggest that it emanates not from an elaborate thought process, but an innate burst of something deeper - raw talent.
It has taken the South London club over a year to begin to fully harness this talent in the first team, but their hard work is undoubtedly being rewarded as they find themselves top of the league and having nurtured this fine young man - 20 years-old only on Saturday - into the best player in the Football League.
Tonight's the night! Manchester United will have signed Wilfried Zaha by breakfast
Report claims deal will be completed under cover of darkness, though Zaha will stay at Palace this season – and not have medical until the summer!
Wilfried Zaha will wake up Red-faced tomorrow morning, and be a Manchester United player by the time he's shovelling down his Frosties, according to a report.
The Daily Mail's John Drayton has reported the paper's understanding that the long-running Zaha saga is coming to an end tonight, with a £12million deal due to be signed.
The Mail report claims that, as widely understood elsewhere, Crystal Palace were committed to brokering a deal that kept Zaha in the Championship for the rest of THIS season, and that this would now form part of the final agreement to be signed tonight.
The Mail report also claims that Zaha would not undergo a Manchester United medical until the summer, though adding that this was in part because some members of the Old Trafford club's medical staff were not available now, and in part because he would be remaining at Palace this season.
hor seh lah...
it would be a fantastic signing if he joins United this summer...