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Parker speaks up for 'talented' Zola

Scott Parker, whose winning goal against Wigan on Saturday all but secured West Ham's place in the Premier League, has paid a heartfelt tribute to Gianfranco Zola, the club's beleaguered manager.

"A lot of people say he is a nice man but he is not just a nice man – he is an extremely talented and good manager," said Parker, who hugged the Italian after scoring on Saturday. "People will say I would support him but, from the bottom of my heart, he is a good man and is a very good manager. It has been a horrible season, but we have put up with a lot of mess."

Parker also credited Zola for his own impressive form this season. "I don't think I would have had the season I have had without him behind me," he said. "He has given me massive belief and confidence, and from my reaction [after the goal] you can see that I respect him."