Gianfranco Zola turns down Chelsea role and targets job as manager
Italian club legend worked as an assistant under Maurizio Sarri last season
Gianfranco Zola pictured with former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Gianfranco Zola will leave Chelsea this weekend upon the expiry of his contract, having turned down the offer of an ambassadorial role at the club and resolved to find work as a manager.
The Italian, who achieved legendary status as a player at Chelsea, served as the assistant to Maurizio Sarri last season, when the club secured a return to the Champions League on the back of a third-placed Premier League finish and won the Europa League.
Sarri has moved to Juventus to succeed Massimiliano Allegri – he will be replaced by Frank Lampard, who will bring his own staff to Stamford Bridge – and Zola wants to be a manager, rather than an assistant, in his next job.
“Gianfranco’s contract with Chelsea expires at the end of the month,” said Zola’s long-time agent and lawyer, Fulvio Marrucco. “After a season of hard work and fantastic results alongside Maurizio Sarri, he is ready to take the next step in his own management career.”
Zola would be open to remaining in England and has the experience of managing West Ham in the Premier League and Watford and Birmingham in the Championship on his CV. He showed what he could do as a coach in the first two roles, although it did not work out at Birmingham.
The 52-year-old was a part of the Chelsea successes under Sarri and he would back himself to do well as a manager in the right structure, most likely alongside a technical director. – Guardian