Gianfranco Zola, OBE, Ufficiale OMRI (born 5 July 1966 in Oliena, Italy) is a retired Italian footballer and current manager, who most recently served as manager of West Ham United from 2008 to 2010, after having been assistant manager of the Italy U-21 under Pierluigi Casiraghi. He spent the first decade of his career playing in Italy, most notably with Napoli, alongside Diego Maradona and Careca, and at Parma, before moving to English side Chelsea, where he was voted Football Writers' Player of the Year in 1997 and Chelsea's greatest ever player. He was capped 35 times for Italy.
Zola signed his first professional contract with Sardinian team Nuorese in 1984. In 1986, he moved to Torres from Sassari, the oldest club in Sardinia, where he spent three seasons. In 1989, he signed for Napoli in Serie A. The young and talented Zola scored two goals as understudy to Diego Maradona as Napoli won the Serie A title in 1990. Maradona would prove to be a big influence on Zola's career. The two would spend hours practising free kicks together after training and Zola later said that "I learned everything from Diego. I used to spy on him every time he trained and learned how to curl a...