Roy Hodgson has called Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha 'anything but a cheat and a diver', after the Ivorian was booked for simulation in Saturday afternoon's Premier League game against Watford.
The game finished 0-0, with Zaha's penalty claim the game's biggest flashpoint - going down in a crowd of Watford players early in the second half.
4 - Since the start of 2015-16, Wilfried Zaha has been shown more yellow cards for diving than any other player in the Premier League. Reputation.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2018
Asked in his post-match press conference if he thought Zaha's reputation prevented him from being given the decision, Hodgson replied: "Reputation is a dangerous thing. Who gives them the reputation? Where he's suffered badly, I think, is that sometimes other managers have come in and given you their version of the story and branded him someone who dives for penalties, and the more it's written and spoken about the more the legend will circulate.
In my long period of time as a coach, the reputation I would like to think I have is of a relatively fair-minded person, not someone who comes in only seeing one team and unable to accept that his team ever fouls anybody or his team ever makes mistakes - then I would point out that he is anything other than a cheat and a diver.
He is somebody who is sometimes far too desperate to stay on his feet because he wants to score a goal himself, and because he moves at such speed there will be times - like in the first half - where he will be unbalanced. He wasn't appealing for the penalty, he was unbalanced and the referee, quite rightly in my opinion, saw the fact he was unbalanced and didn't give the penalty. I didn't appeal for the penalty, because in my opinion it wasn't one."
Gracia on Zaha incidents - "To be honest I didn't see it, there were many players around him. I think there are many situations about Zaha because he has that style of play and makes a lot of dribbles, so you never know. Maybe I can tell when I see on TV."— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) April 21, 2018
Asked after the game if he had discussed the penalty claim with Zaha, he said: "We didn't discuss [the first incident], and I didn't discuss the second one either, because I'd be very very surprised if he said to me that it wasn't [a penalty], because I've seen it so clearly myself and I'm pretty sure that a lot of the people who see it on TV tonight and those that discuss it are more likely to agree with me than otherwise. "