Millwall date excites Zola

West Ham United welcome Millwall in the Carling Cup second round next Tuesday and Gianfranco Zola is well aware of the rivalry between the clubs.

"There is a very strong connection with Millwall," he said. "It is funny. Last year in October when things weren't going very well for us, I stopped at a petrol station and this big bloke came up to me.

"He was huge. It was two degrees outside and he was in short sleeves. He came to me and said 'Franco, you are my hero!' I thought, this man must be a West Ham supporter or maybe a Chelsea supporter.

"He said: 'Look, I am Millwall. I am very pleased because you are taking West Ham down!' I realised then about the relationship between the two clubs…."

Zola, who had the last laugh in the end over that supporter, is certain the fans will relish the experience. "It is a competition we would like to stay in until the end and also it gives you the opportunity to play European football. We are going to be up for it."