Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his relation for former Italian international striker Gianfranco Zola.
The Chelsea legend moved to England in 1996, spending seven years at Stamford Bridge and making 297 appearances in all competitions for the Blues.
During his time in west London, Zola also claimed two FA Cup winners medal, as well as League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup glory. The Barclays Premier League remained out of reach for Chelsea during his time with the club though.
It's the way the little magician played the game which the Manchester United manager admired most though, with his style and spirit something to be acknowledged.
“I loved Gianfranco Zola a lot. He always played with a smile and with the right sporting spirit,” said Ferguson in a wide-ranging interview with Corriere dello Sport.
In the same interview, the Red Devils chief admitted approaching the father of Paolo Maldini over the player's availability for a transfer, although the Manchester United boss quickly realised he wouldn't be able to sign the Italian legend.
“I once asked Maldini’s father Cesare about him,” the Manchester United manager continued.
“He looked at me as if I was a madman and that response was enough to understand that the answer would be no."