Zola power takes award

European round-up

Chelsea's Italian maestro Gianfranco Zola has been voted the Footballer of the Year, completing a hat-trick of foreign winners of the Football Writers' coveted award in its 50th year.

The 30-year-old has made a stunning impact on the English game, including reaching the FA Cup final with Chelsea, and follows Germany's Jurgen Klinsmann for Tottenham in 1995 and the Frenchman Eric Cantonal for Manchester United last year in capturing the 350-strong vote.

Zola will be presented with the award - by Sir Stanley Matthews, the original recipient in 1948 - at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, in London, a week next Thursday just two days before Chelsea's Wembley showpiece against Middlesbrough.

Another pocket-sized overseas star, Middlesbrough's Brazilian Juninho, earned second place. Chelsea will hope there is a Wembley omen in that especially as another of their forwards, Wales's Mark Hughes, finished third, just one vote behind.

Zola won by a distance, polling twice the total number of votes gained by Juninho and Hughes. The top English player was Manchester United's David Beckham in fourth place.

A delighted Zola, who is fighting an injury-battle after being substituted with hamstring trouble in Italy's 3-0 World Cup win over Poland on Wednesday, said: "Every footballer wants to win a prize like this. It is a big honour for me and I feel very lucky. It is hard for me to explain with words what I am feeling. It is not easy to be voted Footballer of the Year when there are so many good players in England."

Chelsea's Dutch manager Ruud Gullit, the runner-up to Cantona last year, said: "I am pleased for Franco and pleased for the club. Let's hope he gets a Wembley winners' medal to go with this trophy."

Zola will be remembered most this year for his winning goal for Italy in the World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley.

Frans Thijssen the former Ipswich and Holland international who won the FWA award in 1981 will fly in from Malmo where he is now coaching to join the football writers' 50th anniversary celebrations. And 14 other previous winners including Gary Lineker (1986 and 1992), Bobby Charlton and Pat Jennings will honour Zola at a gala dinner.

Sir Stanley Matthews, who won the award for a second time in 1963, is one of 29 Englishmen to have collected it. There have been nine Scottish winners, four from Northern Ireland, two each from Wales and Germany and one apiece from the Republic of Ireland, Holland and France.

Now Zola, who joined Chelsea in a pounds 4.5m move from Serie A team Parma in November, becomes the first from Italy to win, underlining the impact of overseas players on the British game.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?