The Ivorian impressed for the Eagles in the league, prompting United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the forward.
Zaha did not join United immediately as he was loaned to Palace to play an important role in their promotion to the Premier League.
Upon his return to United, Ferguson had retired – with David Moyes replacing the legendary Scottish at the helm, meaning Zaha was never able to work with the man who convinced him to move to Old Trafford.
“Things happened quickly, I ended up talking to Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton in London,” he told The Greatest Game podcast with Jamie Carragher.
“It was just crazy, it was unreal, I went to a hotel, knocked on a massive door and Sir Alex Ferguson opened the door and Sir Bobby Charlton was sitting behind him.
“It was like, ‘Am I really dreaming?’
“Sir Alex Ferguson, who I’ve watched for years, tells me he wants me to be part of his team. Everything was surreal.
“He just said he wanted me to play for Man United, that I would play on the wing, there are other young players out there like [Danny] Welbeck et [Tom] Cleverley that I would get along with, and obviously when you come to the start don’t expect to play right away, you have to win that position.
“That’s all he really said, that was fine with me. I thought, “I’m good with everything, opportunity is all I need”. ”
Zaha claims he was not made aware of Ferguson’s impending departure and believes the decision to return on loan to Palace may have been a mistake.
He added: “I just saw it in the papers and I was like, ‘this can’t be true, he wanted to sign me, he must want to see me play at least”.
“Obviously it’s football, you just have to keep going. When I signed with United I asked to come back on loan at Palace to end the season, but when the season ended he retired.
“Even until now I think if I didn’t go back maybe I could have played with the team. ”
Like many other United stars, Zaha struggled to win under Moyes’ tutelage and only made four appearances before leaving on loan at Cardiff City.
He then joined Palace with a permanent contract and became a leading player in the Premier League.
“To be honest when I usually talk about Man United I wouldn’t say I regret anything, but it’s something I regret because I didn’t push my personality,” Zaha continued.
“Because I had never left Croydon, I have never been anywhere, all of a sudden I’m in Manchester, I get homesick sometimes, I didn’t highlight my way at all to play and my personality. I was literally a shadow of myself.
“I think about it in so many different ways because different managers treat young players in different ways because these days we see players who reach the first team at 18 or 19 and the way they are treated, they flourish.
“I can say maybe it happened at the wrong time, I was not mature enough. But at the same time, the way the manager wanted me to play, I wanted him to trust me, so I kind of lost my identity too. because I stopped doing skills, and then it’s like, “who am I if I don’t do skills”. It’s a bit of both really, I’m a bit on the fence about it. ”