Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has hung up his boots, a week before his 39th birthday.
Zola, who spent his final two seasons playing for his hometown club Cagliari, revealed the reasons behind his decision at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“I think this is the right thing to do,” he explained.
“Some time has passed since the end of the season but I needed to reflect.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision but I felt the need to dedicate myself to those things that I have neglected in all these years.”
Zola started his career with Nuorese and Torres before moving to Napoli, where he worked in the shadow of Diego Armando Maradona.
He left the Stadio San Paolo for Parma in 1993 before opting for a £4.5m switch to Stamford Bridge in November 1996, where he spent 7 brilliant years. He scored 80 goals and helped the club win six trophies during this time.
In 1997 he was voted Football Writers’ Player of the Year; incidentally becoming the only player to achieve the accolade without having played a full season.
Zola will be remembered as one of football’s finest ever players but also one of the nicest and most respected. He was voted Chelsea’s greatest-ever player in a 2003 poll and awarded an OBE in November 2004, in what was a fitting tribute to one of the most inimitable players ever to have graced The Premiership.
Roman Abramovich is known to be a big fan of ‘Magic Box’ and will no doubt attempt to persuade him to join the Blues in some capacity soon.
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- Time for Zola to come home
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- The End of the Road