Gianfranco Zola has thanked Chelsea for employing him as Maurizio Sarri’s assistant and ‘helping my career’, even if news of his exit came ‘quite late’.
Zola returned to Chelsea last summer as Sarri’s No 2, and the pair rose above criticism to guide the Blues to third place in the Premier League, Champions League qualification and glory in the Europa League.
“I found out quite late and the manager positions of the other teams have all been sorted out,” he told The Sun.
“Regardless, it is a minor thing for me. It was important that it helped my career. Working for a top club with a top Coach has been good for me.
“I was head Coach before, and my main ambition is to return to that. But to work for Maurizio and Chelsea was a great opportunity.
“It has been a great year, there is no doubting that. Unfortunately, it was not to be. What matters is it was a great year and I have been part of a winning team.
“I want to take the opportunity to say thank you very much to the players, all the coaching staff and all the supporters and the club for the wonderful year we have had.
“Chelsea is in my heart and I was so proud to achieve so much for the club.”
The ex-Napoli, Parma and Italy forward, who turned 53 on Friday, is now targeting another managerial role in England after previous stints with West Ham United, Watford and Birmingham City.
“The most important thing is I want to get on with my future. I would like to stay in England. I will have to wait and see what happens now.
“I am very happy for Frank. It is a great opportunity for him, and I really hope he does well.
“I hope he is going to be a total success. It will not be a walk in the part. It is a big challenge, but big challenges make big Coaches."