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Gianfranco Zola
Gender Male
Ethnic Italian
Job Italian Footballer
Desc A pioneer thanks to his time at Chelsea, where he charmed a generation of fans with his fancy tricks and delightful free-kick goals. The diminutive Italian sparked a period with the Blues of expansive, attractive football. Capable of bamboozling the league’s toughest defenders, Zola’s class deserved to be surrounded with better quality

Affiliation

Org xxxx National Team
Club as Player Chelsea FC
  Napoli FC

2010 01 30 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola has hit out at the betrayal of trust and lack of respect shown to him by his friend and former Chelsea team-mate Eidur Gudjohnsen in snubbing West Ham at the last moment for Tottenham] I feel twisted and turned and certainly a little bit bitter. I’m disappointed because we invested a lot in him and to find he is not coming to us any more. But our life doesn’t depend on Gudjohnsen and we’ll get on with it. Tottenham probably need a striker more than us, they think they need another one. But the player… I wasn’t expecting that. I’m more disappointed in the player because I was expecting something different

[When asked if Gudjohnsen would still be his friend] ‘s very difficult to say right now. I think you are taking advantage of my feelings and I don’t want to play that game. But I’m not going to hide my feelings. I feel disappointed and bitter and I won’t hide it from him. But my life goes on - and my life doesn’t depend on Gudjohnsen and I’ll get on with it. They keep telling me that football is like that right now. I keep saying, when I am dealing with people, I always expect the people in front of me to behave in a certain way, with respect. OK, that wasn’t the case and we move on

[Despite McCarthy’s lack of Premier League action - only seven starts all campaign - Zola is convinced he can rouse the forward to a season-saving display for the Hammers and book his ticket to the World Cup] It shouldn’t be a big problem. The quality is there, that’s what we are looking for. The rest is down to me and my staff to get the best out of him. I have no worries about that. He is determined to do well, to prove himself, and that is a great assurance for us

[Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has been scathing about the player’s failure to turn up for training] I understand Benni and Sam have different opinions. I don’t know the reasons and I don’t want to know. But I think I know Blackburn wanted to sell him - that’s the bottom line. If Benni McCarthy is leaving it is probably because he wasn’t playing there and didn’t feel appreciated. That’s probably the reason why he is leaving. It doesn’t mean I want to get involved in the row between the two. I will help him very much to get to the World Cup. We are going to give him the chance because if I help him, he will help us. He has the qualities to be a World Cup player and to give West Ham a big boost. So we will co-operate with this

[Zola also revealed his regret at the departure of chief executive Scott Duxbury, who brought the little Italian to Upton Park in September 2008] We were expecting changes. I’m more sad than surprised. I’ll keep my commitment and do my best to get the team safe. That is my target and my priority

2015 08 20 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola on Thierry Henry] He is one of those players who can really ruin your day

2016 08 06 Retrieve

[Quotes on Zlatan Ibrahimovic] When he’s on form, he’s unstoppable. He’s at the same level as [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi. He has the strength, the technique and the intelligence. He’s an extraordinary player

2017 12 02 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola tells which of his former team-mates was wilder: Diego Maradona or Faustino Asprilla] Tino by miles. Tino was another league. But always in a nice way. Not that Maradona was in a bad way. But Tino was really, really, a constant search for trouble. Good trouble

2017 03 08 Retrieve

[Quotes on John Terry] John Terry has been one of the columns of the team for the last few years. [. . .] John has been a great contributor to the many successes the club has had in the last few years. He is one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players, certainly one of the most inspirational and charismatic. It is no coincidence the club has been so successful in the last few years. John has been a big part of it

2017 03 09 Retrieve

[Quotes on John Terry] I had no doubt Terry was going to become a superstar. His character and personality impressed me straight away. He stepped in as a young player and looked as if he’d played forever - never scared. He would stand up to anyone, no matter their status

2017 03 10 Retrieve

[Quotes on Didier Drogba] In all their very important matches he has put a stamp on it. Drogba has been fantastic for Chelsea, not only for the goals that he scores but also for unbelievable defending. He has quite an extraordinary example of leadership on the pitch. If you are playing alongside someone like him you feel even more excited. [. . .] he is one of the guys who has made the fortune for Chelsea. Whatever he does he has become a legend for us

2017 03 11 Retrieve

[Quotes on Frank Lampard] He’s one of those midfielders who can score goals, especially when it comes to tight games. Everyone expects the strikers to score but actually Frank got the goals. But Frank has done better than just that because he keeps scoring all the time. I don’t think there is any other midfielder in the world who has scored as many goals as him

2017 03 12 Retrieve

[Quotes on Frank Lampard] He’s been an outstanding player for Chelsea but also for the league. He’s an amazing player. I saw him when he first came to Chelsea and he was very young then and wasn’t the player he is now. But his attitude was fantastic. You could see he was going to become somebody important. I’m pleased to say he’s one of those guys who deserves everything he’s won

2019 05 22 Retrieve

[Quotes on Frank Lampard the manager] You can understand when somebody has a future in this position because to succeed as a coach you really need to have the ability to think over things. It seemed to me that Frank has always had this ability. It’s not a surprise for me he’s doing well and he’s going to do well

2019 06 28 Retrieve

[Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola says Eden Hazard is an ‘incredible’ talent that deserves the opportunity to test himself at Real Madrid] Madrid have bought a fantastic player. This year he was incredible. And as a person, that’s how he is too. Chelsea lost a key player and Madrid have gained one. I wish him all the best and that it goes as well at Madrid as it did at Chelsea. That’s what he deserves. It will go well. His ability doesn’t allow for any doubts. La Liga will be good for him. This year, he learned a lot and improved, learned to play more with the team, improved his passing. I think he’ll do well.

Last year, he was very good for us and he participated in close to 40% of the goals. Not just scoring but assisting too. He was really good, his numbers were incredible too. Some leaders speak a lot in the dressing room, on the field and others do it with actions contributing important things in games, deciding big games. He is a great player for Real Madrid.

[Quizzed on what advice he would offer to Eden Hazard] The best advice I can give is to keep doing what he has been doing. The rest will come. We had many debates about football and he always told me that he performs better when he is having fun, that his best arrives when he is enjoying himself. I hope he enjoys it at Madrid. If he does, the rest will happen naturally

2019 07 04 Retrieve

[Outgoing Chelsea assistant Gianfranco Zola has admitted he was disappointed with the timing of his departure, as former team-mate Frank Lampard takes charge at Stamford Bridge] I found out quite late and the manager positions of the other teams have all been sorted out. Regardless, it is a minor thing for me. It was important that it helped my career. Working for a top club with a top coach has been good for me. I was head coach before and my main ambition is to return to that. But to work for Maurizio and Chelsea was a great opportunity.

[Despite that, Zola insists that there is no bad blood between him and the Blues] It has been a great year, there is no doubting that. Unfortunately, it was not to be. What matters is it was a great year and I have been part of a winning team. I want to take the opportunity to say thank you very much to the players, all the coaching staff and all the supporters and the club for the wonderful year we have had. Chelsea is in my heart and I was so proud to achieve so much for the club. The most important thing is I want to get on with my future. I would like to stay in England. I will have to wait and see what happens now

2019 07 24 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola says Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is an ideal signing for Antonio Conte’s Intermilan] Lukaku would make a big impact at Inter, as he has the ideal characteristics for Conte’s football and has the kind of physicality from the Premier League that puts him a step above the rest in Serie A. Having said that, I believe the real strength at Inter will be Conte himself. He’s really fired up after the Chelsea experience and then taking a year off. He’ll want to transmit that determination to the squad. We know how good Antonio is at transmitting grit, intensity and sporting aggression. I am sure Inter will be one of the principle antagonists to Juventus this season

[He has also earned the public backing of Conte as a player the manager would like to have with him in Serie A] He is a United player and for this reason we must show great respect for the club, for the player and also for my own players. Lukaku is a player that I like because I consider him a player that could improve our team. On one side is my will and my hope. On the other side we will see what we find with the club.

2019 08 11 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola has defended Chelsea’s decision to use N’Golo Kante in a more advanced role last season] There are two reasons for that. The main reason is that in the way Sarri plays, the sitting midfielder, the number six, is the player that plays the most balls in the whole team. Normally Jorginho, when he was at Napoli and also last year, makes between 140 and 160 touches, sometimes even more. So he wants somebody that confident in getting the ball and playing it, not afraid to play and be influential in the game. That is the first reason

The second reason is that Kante is not a sitting midfielder. Although he has always played in a midfield two, at Leicester and in his first two years at Chelsea, at Leicester he was playing with Danny Drinkwater, who was the sitting one and Kante was moving around. He was free to go sideways, backwards, whatever he wanted. And it was the same at Chelsea when Matic was the sitting one and Kante was doing the same job. We spoke with Kante about this and he was very happy to play the position because he liked the position

2019 08 15 Retrieve

[Ex-Chelsea coach Gianfranco Zola opens up on Kepa substitution refusal. It will go down as one of the most infamous moments in Carabao Cup final history as Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga appeared to flatly refuse his manager’s orders by refusing to come off during extra-time against Manchester City last season] In the beginning he misunderstood. He was pretending he was injured because he wanted to waste time. There was nothing really wrong but we then made some considerations. We knew we had Willy Caballero on the bench, who knew all of the Manchester City players and so it was an opportunity for us

We were going to make the change. It wasn’t pre-arranged but we saw the day before he was injured, so we thought it was the injury coming back and we saw an opportunity because Caballero knows the Manchester City players so he can also be a good thing; simple as that. It was obviously not an easy situation to deal with. We could not believe it, we were speechless, we kept telling him to come off but he didn’t come

[Looking back, Zola admits the staff on the bench maybe could have done things differently, but insists it was a bizarre and new situation] I mean, we could have dealt with it better probably, maybe the skipper could have gone to him and say ‘come to the touchline’ but in the end sometimes you have a situation like this

2019 12 14 Retrieve

[Zola: Chelsea stint with enigmatic Maurizio Sarri was difficult, but exceptional to see how he worked] My season with Sarri was difficult, but exceptional in a professional sense. It’s difficult because Sarri has a strong personality, he works very hard and has a high opinion of his own ideas. It wasn’t easy convincing him to use different methods when he had to deal with English football

[He added of Sarri] It was exceptional because of the way he planned out his work, the focus on details in preparing for games and careful study of the opposition. All that represented an enormous learning curve for me. I tried to help him and his Italian staff to relate to and deal with the English culture, so that was my role. When he left, he didn’t thank anyone in particular, but that’s just what Sarri’s like. He is a very reserved man

2019 12 20 Retrieve

[Quote on Zlatan] When he’s on form, he’s unstoppable. He’s at the same level as [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi. He has the strength, the technique and the intelligence. He’s an extraordinary player

2020 02 24 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola has backed Lionel Messi to rise to the occasion of playing at Diego Maradona’s old stomping ground] It will be good for Messi, I think he will like it. When Maradona was in Naples, I’m sure that he was one of those Argentines who stood in front of the television to see his idol, the best player in the world at that time. So playing in a place where Maradona has done so many magical things will make him more motivated, even more inspired. He will want to show Naples who Messi is

It is very difficult. It would be unfair, too. They belong to two different times. The two are extraordinary, they have taken the game to another level. In those years Maradona was unique, there were many good players around, but you could see that he was different, he played in another league compared to the rest.

I think that, to some extent, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are doing it today. Maradona and Messi are two spectacular players with many similarities: they are Argentinian, left-footed, of short stature, they interpret football in a similar way. I wish that Messi wins the World Cup, as Maradona did for his country, because it would be a beautiful story

2020 02 24b Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola says Kepa Arrizabalaga has to be ‘stronger mentally’ in order to turn Chelsea career around] He is a goalkeeper with a great ability to play with his feet, which right now is one of the most important things because the way the teams play requires that characteristic. He has good reflexes and is very strong, he has a great physique for the goal. Although, in my opinion, there are two areas in which he should improve.

The first, when a defender goes out to clear, he must be more forceful and offer greater security. The second is his character, he has to be stronger mentally. But it is normal, it is his second year in the Premier League, his second year in a team like Chelsea that has many ambitions and demands a lot from the goalkeepers. I appreciate Kepa very much. I think this year he is receiving more shots than last season and that is affecting him. For me, he is one of the best goalkeepers of this moment

There was a lot of confusion. We were in the final minutes of the game and he tried to waste time. Then he threw himself to the ground. We wanted to make the change. He was injured and we were approaching penalties. On the bench was Willy Caballero, who is very good in those situations, and knew all the Manchester City players of his time there. He did not understand, there was a great misunderstanding. We were also pressured because we wasted time. What he did was not good, but he apologised and did not go any further. They are things that can happen

2020 05 12 Retrieve

[Blues legend Gianfranco Zola says Loftus-Cheek can be ‘amazing’ for Chelsea despite 12 months out] There’s so many right now in the Premier League that are exciting to watch. The front players for Liverpool, many others. I like [James] Maddison a lot from Leicester, he’s a player that has very good potential. I also like very much last year Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He’s a player that, if he can recover his physical potential, he can be an amazing player. Players like [Eden] Hazard were special last year, he was unbelievable. There is one player that is a game-changer and that is [Kevin] De Bruyne for City. He knows how to do everything, he can set people up for an assist, he can score, he can defend, he can build the play. I think he’s becoming an amazing player

2020 05 30 Retrieve

[Gianfranco Zola says Hazard & Willian suffered under Sarri] They were talented players, like Hazard and Willian, players who know how to win games on their own, but they were suffering from the type of exercises and type of training we were doing - but it was necessary for the others. I’ll be honest, they were brilliant because they got bored, but they kept doing it throughout and that was the reason why when everyone was dropping we were going up towards the end

At the beginning, the players were very much behind everything that we were saying, they were brilliant. They were following everything, but then as the weeks passed due to the repetition and the amount of games they were playing, the players got tired and they also got bored in a way. But boring is part of our job. Sometimes you need to get bored but when you get bored you persist in what you’re doing and you get better. I remember that when I was learning to play football, kicking a ball for example, I used to do it 300-400 times a day at least. There were moments when I got tired but I needed to do it repeatedly because if I wanted it to become a part of me, this was the process I needed to go through.