Zola has admitted his dream is to manage Chelsea one day
By Simon Austin
The story of Diego Maradona, Gianfranco Zola's idol and mentor, is a stark reminder that great players seldom make great managers.
Maradona's spells in charge of Argentine clubs Mandiyu of Corrientes and Racing Club in the mid-1990s were brief, acrimonious and hugely unsuccessful.
Zola, who grew up under the tutelage of Maradona at Napoli, is one of the finest foreign footballers to have graced the English game.
However, there is nothing on the Italian's CV to prove he can replicate this success as a manager with West Ham.
The 42-year-old has been assistant coach of the Italy under-21 side for the last two years and helped lead them to the play-offs for the 2009 European Championship, yet he has no experience of managing a club side.
Young players like Frank Lampard used to try and emulate Gianfranco - he is a guy who leads by example
The Hammers, though, insist they have been thorough and thoughtful in their search for a new boss.
Within hours of Alan Curbishley's resignation last Wednesday, the board had compiled a checklist of 25 qualities they wanted an ideal replacement to have.
These included coaching ability, motivational skills, willingness to work within the club's structure and, perhaps most importantly of all, a record of developing young players.
Chief executive Scott Duxbury and technical director Gianluca Nani compiled an extensive list of suitable names before eventually settling on a shortlist of Zola, ex-Hibernian boss John Collins and former Italy manager Roberto Donadoni.
Zola established himself as first choice following an impressive interview last week.
"We were very happy with all three candidates, but Gianfranco really impressed us with his vision for the club," a boardroom source told BBC Sport.
"He has a track record and passion for developing young players, which is a crucial part of our philosophy, and his time with the Italy Under-21s proves what a good coach he is.
"Gianfranco was a world-class player who wants his team to play exciting, attractive football, which is the West Ham way.
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