Since signing from Parma in 1996, Gianfranco Zola has easily become one of the Chelsea fans' all-time favourite and best players.
Throughout his time at Stamford Bridge, he only held one jersey number, 25. A number that hasn't been used since, making people believe that the number has been retired, but it hasn't as yet. He is loved by fans across England, his native Italy and worldwide.
In his first season at Chelsea, he put in many match-winning performances and scored many great goals. After a match against Manchester United, then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Zola as "a clever little so-and-so."
During his time at Chelsea, he won many trophies and accolades. He was voted the Football Writers' Player of the Year in the 1996–97 season, and lifted the FA Cup in 1997 and 2000. During the 1997/98 season he helped Chelsea to win the League Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup and the Super Cup. He also the Chelsea line during their first ever Champions League campaign during the 1999/2000 season.
His most notable goal was against Norwich City. A corner was taken and Gianfranco Zola scored a mid-air back heel flick, and Claudio Ranieri described Zola as a wizard. "Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try."
In 2003, Zola left Chelsea to return his native Italy. He retired in 2005 after playing his last season with Cagliari, scoring a double against Juventus in his last ever game. In late 2003, Zola was voted as Chelsea's best ever player by the supporters. And, for Chelsea's centenary XI, in 2005, he was voted in as one of the two strikers.
Since retiring from playing football, Zola went into football management. In 2006, he was appointed as assistant manager of Italy U21s alongside former Chelsea striker Pierluigi Casiraghi.
His first taste of management was Premier League side West Ham United. He was appointed as manager after the resignation of Alan Curbishley. When he returned to Stamford Bridge as West Ham manager, he received a great reception from the Chelsea fans.
After a good few seasons, the West Ham-Zola love affair started to sour and he was sacked and replaced by formed Chelsea manager Avram Grant.
In 2012, there were reports about Zola taking over as manager of Watford and on July 7th he was appointed manager on a two-year contract. In his first season, he guided Watford to a third-place finish, but lost in the play-off final to Crystal Palace.
Many Chelsea fans and pundits have touted Zola has a possible future Chelsea manager. Could you see Zola returning to Chelsea in the dug-out?
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