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There have been many great Italian footballers over the years, but Gianfranco Zola is without doubt one of the best. He was a genius on the pitch and his skills with the ball were second to none. In this blog post, we will take a look at Zola's career and find out why he was such an amazing player.
Who was Gianfranco Zola and what was his club career like?
Gianfranco Zola was born in Oliena, Sardinia in 1966. He began his career with the Italian club Nuorese, before moving to Torrest in 1986 where he won Serie C2, the fourth division of Italian football. After spending three seasons with the club Zola secured a big move to Napoli in 1989. He spent four years at Napoli winning the Serie A playing alongside the great Maradona, before joining Parma in 1993. At Parma, he won the European Super Cup in 1993 and the UEFA Cup in 1995.
In 1996, Zola moved to England to join Chelsea. He spent seven years at Chelsea and was a hugely popular player with the fans. He won the League Cup, two FA Cups, the UEFA Winners Cup and the UEFA Super Cup during his time at Chelsea. Zola made over 300 appeareces for Chelsea scoring more than 70 times and was twice voted as Chelsea's player of the year. He returned to Italy with Cagliari and spent two seasons there before eventually retiring in 2005.
Zola's time with the national team was just as successful as his club career. He made his debut for Italy in 1991 and went on to make 35 appearences for the side. He represented his country at, the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1996. He retired from international football 1997 after he was left out the the 1998 World Cup Squad.
Gianfranco Zola's Managerial Career
After retiring from playing, Gianfranco Zola moved into coaching. He started off as the assistant manager of the U21 Italian team. He then went on to manage West Ham United in 2008 for a couple of seasons. He was appointed as the manager of Watford in 2012 but left by mutual consent in 2013 after a poor run of form. In 2014, he was appointed as the manager of Cagliari but was sacked after just six months in charge. Zola also had a season-long spell managing Birmingham City.
In 2017, Zola returned to England to take up a role as an assistant coach at Chelsea. He remained in this position for a season after Maurizo Sarri had left his managerial role.
What was Gianfranco Zola's style of play?
Gianfranco Zola was a diminutive player and was known for his quick feet and dribbling ability. He was a creative playmaker who was comfortable using both feet. He often played behind the striker and would look to pick out passes for his teammates. He was also an excellent free-kick taker and scored many goals from direct set-pieces.
There are many things that made Gianfranco Zola such a special footballer. Firstly, his technical ability was superb. He had great control of the ball and could make passes that other players simply couldn't. He was also a very creative player and had an excellent eye for goal. Secondly, he was a very hard worker and gave 100% every time he stepped on the pitch. Thirdly, his leadership qualities were excellent. He was always calm and composed on the pitch and would often be seen giving instructions to his teammates. Lastly, he was an extremely humble person who was always willing to help others.