Mata honoured by comparisons to Chelsea idol Zola
Chelsea attacking midfielder Juan Mata has thanked Blues supporters for comparing him to one of the most popular players in the club’s history, Gianfranco Zola, the Daily Mirror has reported.
The summer signing from Valencia added however that he feels he has a lot more to achieve at Stamford Bridge before comparisons to the Italian are truly justified. Mata said: “I know that, for the Chelsea fans, Zola is a legend. For me to even be compared slightly with him is a real compliment. As far as I’m concerned though he did everything with Chelsea - and I only just got here.”
Zola moved to the Premier League in 1996, a £4.25m signing from Serie A side Parma by then-Chelsea boss Ruud Guillit, spending seven years in Chelsea colours before returning to Italy in 2003. During his time as Chelsea’s No. 25 Zola made 312 appearances, scoring 80 times, and won two FA Cups, a League Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.
On an individual level Zola was equally as trophy-laden, picking up the 1997 Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year, twice being named Chelsea Player of the Year (1999 and 2003) and being awarded an honorary OBE for services to football in 2004.
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