In a match that saw Brighton continue their stunning start to the Championship season, an old hero proved the difference in a tight clash at Elland Road.
After three years at Bristol Rovers, Bobby Zamora sealed his big move to Brighton & Hove Albion in 2000. In a spell that lasted until 2003 and staged an immense 83 goals in only 136 appearances, the Barking-born forward became a cult hero at the East Sussex side.
The summer of 2015 saw a dream return to the Seagulls for Zamora, 12 years after his first departure. In between, Zamora had amassed two England caps, 93 goals and a winning finish in the 2014 Championship play-off final. The boy had turned a man.
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However, although the 2014-15 season saw the six-foot striker make 31 appearances in England’s top division, there was little doubt that Zamora was entering the twilight of his career. Brighton appeared the fairytale move and ended a patchy three-and-a-half year spell at QPR.
With twelve minutes to go in this weekend’s fixture away to Leeds United, manager Chris Houghton subbed on their summer transfer.
The game was locked at 1-1; Brighton had taken an early lead via Solly March’s low finish before a Liam Cooper header brought the Leeds level. Despite being unable to score since his return, the visitors deployed the experience of Bobby Zamora.
As the game rumbled on towards stoppage time the move paid off. In a desperate melee that saw the bar rattled and Silvestri forced into a save, the ball finally dropped for Zamora who floated home the winner.
The goal ignited joyous celebrations. Not only had he notched his first Brighton goal since May 2002 sealed a 2-1 win, but it had extended the seaside club’s league lead to four points.
Whilst first team football may prove sparse for Zamora this campaign, even after dropping to the Championship, there is no doubt the veteran has played his part this week.
It was 4,549 days since his previous strike for the club and has proven better late than never for Brighton’s homecoming star.