Moments of Magic #13 – Gianfranco Zola

by Neil Sherwin

Pint-sized Italian magician Gianfranco Zola is the subject of this installment of Moments of Magic thanks to a wonderful piece of finishing against Norwich City.

#13 Gianfranco Zola v Norwich City, 2002

When Chelsea took on Norwich in an FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge in 2002, a 36 year old Gianfranco Zola was coming towards the end of his distinguished playing career.

Adored by fans wherever he played, the Oliena born striker often them on their feet with moments of brilliance, and his effort in the 4-0 third round victory was probably his best.

Goals from Mario Stanic and Frank Lampard had put the Blues two goals to the good when full back Graeme Le Saux swung in a corner from the right hand side.

Zola made a darting run across the box to the near post and, with the neatest of half volley back heals, he flicked the ball into the net past a stunned Robert Green in the visitors’ goal.

The audacious effort typified a style that wasn’t too different to that of a certain Diego Maradona, who he learned much off in his Napoli days.

“Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try,” said then-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri.

Zola later dedicated the goal to a boy he had visited in hospital a few weeks earlier.

The Italian had promised him he would do something special for him but the boy died of a brain tumour before he managed to.

“I was touched by the smile he gave me,” he said.

“He was in agony and I hope he will see the goal from wherever he is.”

Zola left Chelsea in 2003 to return to his native land to play with Cagliari for three seasons before hanging up his boots.

He was appointed West Ham manager in 2008.

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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1 Response

  1. Elliott says:

    That was delightfully preposterous!

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