West Ham United are delighted to announce the appointment of Gianfranco Zola as the club's new manager.
The 42-year-old Zola, who has agreed a three-year contract, was the unanimous choice of the Board and comes to the Boleyn Ground from the Italian Football Association where he has worked for the past two years primarily within the successful Under-21 set-up. Zola is best known for his seven years at Chelsea between 1996 and 2003 where he gained vast experience of the Premier League and won many admirers on and off the pitch.
"I am delighted to be here," he said. "It's a great honour for me to be involved in such an important job. And I can promise, as I said to the board before, that I will do my best. I'm here to help the team to develop as individuals first and then also as a team. That is my duty and I will give all of my knowledge and all my experience to the players. That is my aim and as I said I will do everything I can to do this."
Attacking football will dominate his philosophy, with the smiling Zola clear about the way he will prepare the team when he takes charge officially on Monday. "We will try to play this style of football. I know it is a challenge. It is something that sparks me up. I cannot wait to start working for this team."
Zola rose to prominence at Napoli in the early 1990s alongside Diego Maradona, who he cited as a major influence on his development. The forward then went on to enjoy further success with Parma while establishing himself in the Italian national team. Then came his time at Chelsea during which he scored 80 goals in 312 appearances. He was voted the Football Writers' Player of the Year in 1997 and is rightly regarded as one of the greatest foreign players to grace the Premier League.
He decided to return to his native Italy in 2003 to play for Cagliari, then of Serie B. Within a season he had helped them to win promotion. He then retired in June 2005 but he was not long out of the game. His role with the Italian FA saw him combine his work with the U21 side by taking the Olympic team to the quarter-finals of the Beijing Games this summer. He signed off with the Azzurri by helping the U21s to next month's European Championship play-offs.
Zola, awarded an honorary OBE in 2004, will begin work on Monday 15 September with Kevin Keen in charge for this Saturday's Barclays Premier League away match at West Bromwich Albion.