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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Zamora ready for the big time
By Paul Fletcher

If you take a trip down to the Withdean Stadium to watch Brighton you are more than likely to have heard their ode to star striker Bobby Zamora.

It is sung to the tune of That's Amore and goes: "When the ball hits the goal it's not Shearer or Cole, it's Zamora."

But the question intriguing many at the moment is which set of supporters will be adopting that tune next season.

Bobby Zamora
Zamora has huge natural talent

A quiet word with a few of those in the know at Brighton and you get the very strong impression that the 22-year-old striker will not be plying his trade in Sussex next season.

Zamora has been keeping a whole host of scouts in business and Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle might as well have bought a season ticket.

But Zamora had a superb relationship with former boss Micky Adams and many expect the two to be reunited in the summer.

Adams is on the verge of taking Leicester back to the Premiership so a move to the Walkers Stadium at first glance seems a likely prospect.

But some informed sources at Brighton have been suggesting their beloved Zamora will end up playing for Adams next season, but that it will not be at Leicester.

Wherever he ends up, it seems inevitable that the Premiership beckons.

I rate him very highly indeed, he is fantastic
Preston boss Craig Brown

He joined Brighton from Bristol Rovers for 100,000 in 2000 after failing to break into the first team at the Pirates and quickly caught the eye.

England Under-21 honours have since followed and he is seen by many as Brighton's best chance of winning their relegation battle.

But even if Albion do stay up it seems likely that Zamora's long-mooted move to the Premiership will materialise - so what will Zamora bring to the top flight?

He has pace, holds the ball well and possesses a sweet left foot.

And his 67 goals in 115 League appearances for Brighton underline his scoring credentials.

Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle
Hoddle has watched Zamora often this season

Preston boss Craig Brown is in no doubt that Zamora poses a massive threat - and ahead of his team's 2-0 win at Brighton last Saturday made sure his players were well aware of the threat.

"I rate him very highly indeed, he is fantastic," Brown told this website.

"He is the one that in every team-talk you say 'Don't let him get on that left side, don't let him run through, keep him on your right foot if you can'.

"But that is easier said than done because he is a very, very good player."

Indeed with Brighton deploying Zamora as a lone striker against Preston, Brown admitted afterwards he deployed midfielder Brian O'Neil to specifically try and prevent players supporting Zamora in attack.

"He was on his own with Gary Hart and Graham Barrett wide and depended on quick midfield support - we put O'Neil in there to stop the ball from being played through."

But Zamora is far from the finished article and it remains curious that so many have looked at the striker yet no one has, as yet, been prepared to take the gamble.

He has tremendous ability, he has everything a top striker needs - pace, strength and a few tricks up his sleeve
Brighton goalkeeper Dave Beasant

Zamora was subdued against Preston and had to be content with half-chances.

He smashed a header against the crossbar after making a superb leap but heading is generally not considered one of his great strengths.

"He has tremendous ability, he has everything a top striker needs - pace, strength and although he would admit he is not the best in the air he has a few tricks up his sleeve," Brighton goalkeeper Dave Beasant told BBC Sport.

"People were doubting him when he was in Division Three and Division Two but now he is playing well in Division One. I know he can play at a higher level.

"Talking to Bobby I would say he is one of these who is not really in love with football.

"He has great natural ability but he has to make sure that his concentration and input is 100%. He cannot afford to drift out of games."

Premiership clubs are increasingly reluctant to pluck strikers from the Nationwide. It is a gamble in an age of contracting cash flow.

But when it comes to Zamora it could prove to be a gamble worth taking.






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BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION

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