Gianfranco Zola is an Italian former footballer, who played predominantly as a forward. After retirement from playing he became a manager.He spent the first decade of his playing career playing in Italy, most notably with Napoli, alongside Diego Maradona and Careca, where he was able to win the Serie A title, and at Parma, where he won the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Cup. He later moved to English side Chelsea, where he was voted the Football Writers’ Player of the Year in the 1996–97season. During his time at the club, he won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, two FA Cups, the League Cup, and the Community Shield. In 2003, he was voted Chelsea’s greatest player ever. He was capped 35 times for Italy from his debut in 1991, appearing at the 1994 World Cup, where Italy finished in second place, and Euro 1996. After a stint with Italy under-21s, Zola began his club managerial career with West Ham United of the Premier League in 2008 in the Premier League, before being sacked in 2010. He was manager of Watford from July 2012 until he announced his resignation on 16 December 2013. From December 2014 to March 2015 he managed Cagliari in Serie A.
Fifa World Cup “USA 94”
Italy vs Nigeria
Match Worn Shirt
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After under-performing during the group stage, Baggio refound his form in the knockout stages, where he scored five memorable goals. Baggio scored two goals in the round of 16, helping a ten-man Italy defeat Nigeria 2–1 at Foxboro Stadium in Boston, after trailing for most of the match. He scored his first goal of the match with two minutes left on the clock, after receiving ball at the edge of the area from Roberto Mussi. He then went on to score the winning goal from a penalty in extra time after setting up Antonio Benarrivo with a lobbed pass, who was then fouled in the penalty area.
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Zola appeared at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, making one substitute appearance in the second round knock-out match against Nigeria in Boston. After only twelve minutes, Zola was controversially sent off, after ‘fouling’ Augustine Eguavoen, which forced him to miss the two subsequent World Cup matches. Although Italy managed to reach the World Cup final, Zola did not regain his place in the side after this suspension.
“Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try” Ranieri Claudio
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Born in Oliena, Zola signed his first professional contract with Sardinian team Nuorese in 1984. In 1986, he moved to the Sassari-based team Torres, where he spent three seasons. During his playing career, Zola was primarily used as a supporting striker or as a playmaking attacking midfielder, due to his ability to create chances and provide assists for teammates; he was also deployed as a winger or even as a striker on occasion. A creative and technically gifted player, Zola was renowned for his ball control, his skilful dribbling ability, vision, and passing ability, as well as his tactical intelligence, ability to read the game and eye for goal. Although he was not physically imposing, his small stature and low centre of gravity gave him good balance and allowed him to be extremely quick and agile, which, along with his acceleration and ball skills, enabled him to change direction with the ball very quickly in tight spaces, and allowed him to beat defenders with feints in one on one situations. Zola was also a penalty kick and set piece specialist, who was particularly renowned for his accuracy at bending direct free-kicks. Due to his creativity and skill, Zola was given the nickname “Magic box” whilst playing at Chelsea. Zola is regarded as one of the best Italian creative forwards of his generation, and as one of the best players in Premier League history. In his playing career, Zola played 628 games and scored 193 goals. Despite speculation he would play on in the 2005–06 season, Zola decided to leave the game just a week before he turned 39, and took a job as an Italian football pundit.
Cagliari vs Milan
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In the summer of 2003, amid rumours of an impending takeover at Chelsea, Zola left Stamford Bridge to join Cagliari, 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 when Zola refused to renege on his verbal contract with Cagliari, although Zola himself will not confirm it. 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. Zola retired as the fifth highest goalscorer of free-kicks in Serie A history, with 20 goals from set-pieces, and currently sits behind only Francesco Totti and Roberto Baggio (both at 21), Alessandro Del Piero (22), Andrea Pirlo and Siniša Mihajlović (both at 28).