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Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 11:06 UK

Etherington praises old boss Zola

Matthew Etherington
Etherington has made 11 appearances for Stoke since joining in January

Stoke City winger Matthew Etherington has praised former manager Gianfranco Zola ahead of the Potters' meeting with West Ham on Saturday.

The 27-year-old joined City from the Hammers for £2m in January.

He told BBC Radio Stoke: "He [Zola] has shown he can be a top manager, he's done a brilliant job.

"When he first came in they weren't sure whether they'd be in a relegation battle or end up where they are now, so he's done really well."

Zola arrived at Upton Park in September 2008 and has led United to eighth in the Premier League and to be in contention for a place in next season's Europa League.

"I don't think any West Ham fan would have expected what they've done this season. They've got a nice balance there with Steve Clarke as coach," added Etherington.

And the former Peterborough man, who joined West Ham from Tottenham Hotspur in 2003, said he is looking forward to taking on his former club for the first time since his move to the Britannia Stadium.

"When I signed for Stoke I looked for the West Ham fixture, and it's come around quickly.

"I still talk to quite a few of the lads there, and I've got very fond memories of the place, but it's about me putting a performance in, and getting the three points."

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After spending five-and-half-years at Upton Park, Etherington made only one appearance for the Hammers in his last three months with the club, but he insisted he was not forced to leave.

"It wasn't a case that I wasn't in his [Zola's] plans," said Etherington.

"I sat down with him, and it was just time for me to move on, and I know I've made the right move.

"I never fell out with the club, I like to think I repaid them and helped them to get into the Premier League. I might get a few boos, and if I do, then so be it."



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