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‘I was left homeless at six years old’

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The 28-year-old has his own foundation, funds an orphanage run by his sister Carine in Daloa, Ivory Coast – the country of his birth which the family left when he was four – and offered free accommodation to NHS staff during the first lockdown through a property company he co-owns, something he is willing to do again.

But charity was important to Zaha long before he began earning a high-end Premier League salary. When he signed his first professional contract, aged 16, Zaha vowed to donate 10 per cent of his earnings and has done so ever since. 

“It was about £500-a-week,” Zaha recalls of that initial deal. “At the time I was thinking, ‘Oh my days, this [10 per cent] is a lot’. But it was an agreement I made. Me and my mum [Delphine] would pray and say to God, ‘You have done this for me, I am going to give back.’ I have done that and it has taken me to these heights and I am happy how far I have come in my career.

“My mum’s exactly the same as me. She started the charity for me from that first wage packet, with my first contract. I guess I could have spent it on, I don’t know what, but my family, especially my mum, are heavily Christian so it felt like a duty to help. I feel like my life is a testament to God helping me. One hundred per cent. So as soon as I was able to help, I helped. That’s why with everything that’s going on now if I have the opportunity to help out then it’s a no-brainer.”

Maybe so, but a lot of people still choose not to. “I know,” Zaha says. “People are just built differently. You know what I don’t really speak about it [donating a portion of his wages] but the only reason why I do is because I am asked about it. I have never done it for the accolades, for tax purposes, for nothing. 

“It’s why I haven’t spoken about it much because it’s a duty for me. I have been there and I just want to help. That’s it. I am 100 per cent motivated. I do this every day for my kids, for my family and I also see how many lives I help. Every time I step on that pitch I am hungry, I am passionate about what I do.”



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