Sunday, 1 August 2010

Great footballers vol 1

Yeah im biased as fuck with the first Vol its none other than Gianfranco Zola

I personally think this guy is the greatest to ever grace a Chelsea shirt and id say best ever prem player tho it could be widley debated but he is up there. Not going to go into it much as ive stole a big write up from wiki but what i will say he wasnt like ronaldo etc and have the big head because of his talent. He was the most humble footballer ive seen and Chelsea owe alot to the guy.

Club career
[edit] Italy
Zola signed his first professional contract with Sardinian team Nuorese in 1984. In 1986, he moved to Torres from Sassari, the oldest club in Sardinia, where he spent three seasons. In 1989, he signed for Napoli in Serie A. The young and talented Zola scored two goals as understudy to Diego Maradona as Napoli won the Serie A title in 1990. Maradona would prove to be a big influence on Zola's career. The two would spend hours practising free kicks together after training and Zola later said that "I learned everything from Diego. I used to spy on him every time he trained and learned how to curl a free-kick just like him."[5] He helped Napoli to win the Supercoppa Italiana in 1991 and he made his debut for the Italian national side under coach Arrigo Sacchi in the same year, winning his first cap against Norway in November. In 1993, Zola left Napoli and joined fellow Serie A side Parma. He won the UEFA Cup with Parma and they were runners-up in Serie A and the Italian Cup in 1995. It was with the blue and yellow club that he cemented his reputation as a creative player. However, coach Carlo Ancelotti came to see Zola as a "square peg" unable to fit into his rigid system.[6] Zola was played out of position and ultimately made available for transfer.

[edit] Chelsea
In November 1996, Zola joined Chelsea for £4.5 million as one of several continental players signed by Ruud Gullit and wore the number 25 jersey. Zola's debut against Tottenham Hotspur was the first immediately following the death of Chelsea director Matthew Harding in a helicopter crash three days before. In his debut season he put in several notable performances and scored a series of memorable goals. In February 1997, after spiriting the ball around Manchester United's defence in the penalty area before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, he was described by United manager Alex Ferguson as a "clever little so-and-so."[7] He was a key player in Chelsea's resurgence that season, helping them win the FA Cup with a 2–0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley having scored four goals en route to the final, including a 25 yard curling shot against Liverpool as Chelsea came from 0–2 behind to win 4–2, and a "twisted blood" effort in the semi-final against Wimbledon, backheeling the ball and turning 180 degrees before slotting the ball into the net. At the end of the season he was voted FWA Player of the Year, the only player ever to win the accolade without playing a full season in the English league and the first Chelsea player to win it.

In 1997–98, he helped Chelsea win three more trophies, the League Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup and the Super Cup. An injury denied him a place in the starting line-up for the Cup Winners' Cup final against Stuttgart at the Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm, but he came on as a second-half substitute and scored the winning goal within 21 seconds. With only his second touch of the game, he struck a through ball from Dennis Wise past Wohlfahrt into the roof of the net to secure Chelsea's third major trophy in a year and the second European trophy in the club's history. In the same season, Zola hit his first professional hat-trick, in a 4–0 victory over Derby County at Stamford Bridge in November 1997.

"Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try."
— Claudio Ranieri reflecting on Zola's back-heeled goal against Norwich in 2002.[8]
When Chelsea made their first appearance in the Champions League in 1999–2000, Zola was a key player throughout, although he found his chances in the league more limited, owing to manager Gianluca Vialli's squad rotation policy. Zola scored three goals in Chelsea's run to the quarter-finals, including a curling free kick against Barcelona, and again won the FA Cup with the club, with his free-kick in the final against Aston Villa setting up Roberto Di Matteo's winner. His later years with Chelsea saw his appearances restricted by the new strike pairing of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eiður Guðjohnsen, but in Hasselbaink's first season at Stamford Bridge, Zola formed a good partnership with him, scoring 32 league goals between them, (Zola scoring 9 and Hasselbaink hauled 23). It was the 2001–02 season that Zola's starting chances became limited, after a summer when Claudio Ranieri showed to door to many of Chelsea's ageing stars such as club captain Dennis Wise, goalscoring midfielder Gustavo Poyet and French defender Frank Leboeuf, Zola was limited to infrequent starts and many substitute appearances due to Ranieri's new policy of decreasing the average age of the Chelsea squad, preferring to play the gifted Icelandic youngster Gudjohnsen with Hasselbiank, though Zola did score with a backheeled effort in mid-air in an FA Cup tie against Norwich City, a goal manager Claudio Ranieri described as "fantasy, magic".[9] In 2002–03, his final season with Chelsea, he enjoyed a renaissance, scoring 16 goals, his highest seasonal tally for Chelsea, and was voted the club's player of the year after helping Chelsea qualify for the Champions League.

Zola scored his final goal for Chelsea, a lob from outside the penalty area against Everton, on Easter Monday 2003, and made his final competitive appearance for the club on the final day of the season with a 20-minute cameo against Liverpool, beating four Liverpool players during a fantastic dribble late on in the match, gaining applause from both sets of fans. This would become the final class moment of his Chelsea career. He played in a total of 312 games for Chelsea and scored 80 goals. In early 2003, Zola was voted as the best ever Chelsea player by Chelsea's fans. In November 2004, he was awarded an OBE – Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire in a special ceremony in Rome.[10] In 2005, Zola was voted into the Chelsea F.C. Centenary Eleven, occupying one of the two forward roles. Whilst the club has not officially withdrawn Zola's number 25 shirt from circulation, no other player has held the squad number since his departure.

Return to Italy
In the summer of 2003, amid rumours of an impending takeover at Chelsea, Zola left Stamford Bridge to join Cagliari, the most important club from his native Sardinia. Within a week Chelsea was acquired by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It was reported that Abramovich tried to buy the entire Cagliari club[11] when Zola refused to renege on his verbal contract with Cagliari, although Zola himself will not confirm it.[12] Zola subsequently led Cagliari to promotion to the Italian Serie A. Then he renewed his contract for Cagliari Calcio for one more year. He retired in June 2005, after ending his career in appropriate style with a double against Juventus in his last ever professional game. His number 10 Cagliari jersey was withdrawn in his honour for the season after he left but was worn in the 2006–07 season by Andrea Capone.[13]

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