'I am very happy to be going home,' says Zola

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The Independent Football

Gianfranco Zola swapped the Champions' League for the less glamourous surroundings of Serie B yesterday, but claimed he could not be happier to have joined the Sardinian club Cagliari.

Zola rejected the offer of a new contract from Chelsea to move back to Sardinia after seven years at Stamford Bridge in which he became a firm favourite of the fans.

Although he conceded it was a wrench to leave, the lure of returning to the country of his birth was, ultimately, too great. "I am very happy to be playing for Cagliari, the most important team of my homeland," Zola said. "This is a life decision, not an economic one. I know Chelsea have tried until the last minute to keep me."

Zola, who will captain Cagliari next season, has signed a one-year contract. The 36-year-old has reportedly been lined up for an executive role at the club when he retires from playing.