Gianfranco Zola OBE

After an illustrious playing career in London being voted Chelsea's best ever player, Zola entered management with West Ham United in September 2008.

Born in Oliena, Sardinia, Zola began his playing career with Nuorese. Zola spent the first decade of his career in Italy, notably at Napoli and Parma. Whilst at Napoli, Zola played alongside Diego Maradona and helped them achieve the Scudeto title for only the second time in their history.

In November 1991, Zola made his debut for the Italian national team against Norway under Coach Arrigo Sacchi. Zola won 35 caps for Italy, scoring 10 goals. In 93, Zola then signed for Parma winning the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super-Cup before moving to England to sign for Chelsea.

Zola played a total of 312 games for Chelsea and scored 80 goals. During his time at Chelsea, Zola won the FA Cup twice, League Cup, Community Shield, UEFA Cup Winners Cup, and the European Super Cup. In recognition, of his playing career in England Zola, was awarded an OBE in 2004 and inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

In the summer of 2003, Zola returned to his native Sardinia signing for Cagliari before retiring in June 2005. In his entire career, Zola played 627 games and scored 193 goals.

In 2006, Zola started his coaching career, being appointed as assistant to Italy national under-21 football team head coach Pierluigi Casiraghi by the Italian Football Federation. The duo, led the azzurrini to gain a spot at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they reached the quarter-finals.

Zola was unveiled as the new West Ham United Manager on the 11th September 2008. The former Italy playmaker became the 12th manager and first foreign boss in West Ham's history after replacing Alan Curbishley. The Hammers finished 9th in 2008/09 after an impressive second half of the season just missing out on European qualification.

Zola and West Ham then parted company at the close of the 2009/10 season.

Later in his first season in charge at Vicerage Road, Watford narrowly missed out on automatic promotion by finishing 3rd in the Championship. Zola also guided Watford to the play-off final where they narrowly missed out on a place in the Barclays Premier League to Crystal Palace.

Honours (1)
  • personal-awards
    • Watford:
      • Manager of the Month, Sky Bet Championship, (2013-02-01)
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