Sometimes a player arrives at a club or in a league, and makes a truly long-lasting impact.
Gianfranco Zola joined Chelsea at a time when foreign players in the Premier League were not as common as they are today, and as such, the Italian was seen as an exotic figure of interest as soon as he pulled on the blue shirt. Standing nowhere near six-foot, Zola was tiny in comparison to the big, burly, British defenders whose task it was to contain him.
But time and time again, after scoring his first Chelsea goal on 7th December 1996, he proved that size didn’t matter; it was his skill, his flair and his talent that did. That first goal was to be just one of a catalogue of picturebook goals that the little Italian would score, whipping in a free-kick from thirty-yards out on a building site that slightly resembled Stamford Bridge.
He went on to become a Chelsea legend, an icon of their team and hall of famer long before the money, success and ruthless Chelsea that we know today emerged in the mid-2000s. For 80 Premier League goals, many of them as stunning as his first one, and for entertaining fans of all clubs with his unquestionable ability, this week’s #LAFTBT is a tribute to Gianfranco.