Zola swans into Australia
10:26 PM Sun 24th Dec, 2006 - Admin
Italian legend Gianfranco Zola has been quick to quash talk surrounding a possible spell with an A-League club on his arrival in Sydney.

"I don't think so, no, no, no," the 40-year-old replied when asked if he would consider a four-match guest player stint with Sydney FC or the like.

The former flamboyant forward says his future is coaching, having recently taken up a post as Italian under-21 team boss, but admits he is too raw to head a national team like the Socceroos.

"Well look, I think it's too early for me," said Zola, who is in the country on a two-week promotional trip with a sportswear company.

"I just took my first degree of my coaching badge just a few weeks ago. It's not just about going in to management, it's also about doing that properly and I really like to do things properly."

Zola scored 193 goals in his playing career, spanning 22 years at Italian clubs Parma, Cagliari and Napoli, as well as current English giant Chelsea - where he is regarded as one of the club's best ever players.

He only retired a year ago but can't see himself playing professionally ever again.

"You mean playing for the A-League? Ooh. I'm too old for this thing," he said.

"The last time I played football it seemed to me (the match) was very long."

Zola will, however, pull on the boots for a one-off charity match between NSW Premier League clubs Marconi and APIA Leichhardt at Marconi Stadium on Friday 29 December.

He will play for both teams, swapping sides at half-time, and the following day he'll hold a coaching clinic.

"It was one of my priorities to come to see this country," he said.

Zola left Chelsea in 2003 for Italian Serie B side Cagliari. Within a week Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea and changed the face of the club.

Abramovich was keen to re-sign Zola when he left three years ago, but was unable to persuade the striker to cancel his verbal contract with Cagliari.

The Russian even attempted to purchase the entire Cagliari club, but the sale was rejected.

Zola subsequently led Cagliari to promotion int o the Serie A.

"There are things that are sometimes more important than money," Zola said. "The reason why I went to Sardinia was bigger than any money."

"(I have) no regrets. I'm lucky enough to say that I've had a wonderful time (at Chelsea). I've had satisfactions. I didn't win the league, but I was lucky enough to win other competitions, so I'm pleased with that and I'm pleased that Chelsea are doing so well now."

"Chelsea is a very important time of my life so I'll never forget that."

Zola played 312 games for the London club between 1996 and 2003, scoring 80 goals, and in 2005 was voted in to the Chelsea FC Centenary Eleven, occupying one of the two forward roles.

His number 25 jersey was retired at Chelsea, as was his number 10 at Cagliari.
Source: AAP
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