Wilfried Zaha can emulate Matt Le Tissier’s Southampton status and become a Crystal Palace “icon”, according to Roy Hodgson.
Eagles boss Hodgson believes there is more to fulfilling career promise than lifting top trophies, citing Le Tissier’s regard as a Southampton all-time great as sufficient proof.
In-demand Ivory Coast forward Zaha signed a new five-year Palace deal this week, with the Croydon men hoping to have once again warded off a host of circling suitors.
And now Hodgson believes the 25-year-old has what it takes to mirror the impact of Le Tissier, who struck 100 goals in 270 Premier League appearances for Southampton between 1986 and 2002.
Asked if Zaha has the credentials to become Palace’s answer to the ex-Saints star, Hodgson said: “I have an enormous respect for Matt Le Tissier.
“That would have been a career I’d have been unbelievably proud of, to have a career at one club and to be as much of an icon and to be as well loved and as well respected at that club as he is, and furthermore to have the respect of everyone in football.
“I don’t know anyone in football who has ever said anything other than that Matt Le Tissier was a fantastic player, fantastic person, a fantastic club servant.
“That is not such a bad thing to have people say about you when your career is over. I would have been very happy with that.”
Hodgson also believes Zaha can meet all his career goals at Palace.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Selhurst Park, the former England boss said: “I hope so. The fact is that there was a time when being at a club for a long time and serving that club very well and helping that club to do very well was enough for people.
“It seems now that we are creating a category, that if you are not in this unbelievably thin category somewhere, where if you haven’t won the Premier League title or the Champions League, your career has been a waste of time.
“I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to that. To be fair, all players who play for clubs like us have to accept that it’s not going to be easy to get your hands on a trophy.
“But Leicester did, didn’t they? And we can certainly consider ourselves in a similar category to them.
“So I’m certain that he will want and hope and desire that trophy. But I’m not prepared to suggest that the only players worth considering are ones who have won the Champions League or the Premier League trophy, because to do that you have got to play for two or three clubs.
“Who is to say that players are not fulfilled spending the next five years at Crystal Palace, doing exceptionally well every year, loved by the fans, helping Crystal Palace to a position in the league that they think they can achieve.
“Who is to say that that is not fulfilling goals and that is not a very worthwhile career?
“You are suggesting that fulfilment of goals is winning the Champions League or winning a Premier League and unfortunately there are not many teams that do that. You’d have to get yourself, I suppose, to one of those teams.”