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Gianfranco Zola picks his ultimate five-a-side team on Soccer AM | Football News

Watch the Chelsea great pick his ultimate five-a-side team in full on the Soccer AM YouTube channel!

Last Updated: 15/03/19 2:25pm

Gianfranco Zola picks his ultimate five-a-side team, made up of former team-mates

Gianfranco Zola picks his ultimate five-a-side team, made up of former team-mates

Gianfranco Zola picks his ultimate five-a-side team, made up of former team-mates

Gianfranco Zola picks his ultimate five-a-side team, made up of former team-mates – and when he can afford to leave out Paolo Maldini and Roberto Baggio, you know it is a useful side!

Having started his career in Sardinia, firstly with Nuorese and then Torres, Zola moved to Napoli in 1989, won the league title in his first season, and during a four-year spell, scored 32 goals in 105 games before joining Parma, playing 102 games and netting 49 goals.

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That earned him a move to Chelsea, where he is now assistant manager, and he spent a memorable seven years at Stamford Bridge, winning the FA Cup twice as well as the League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

Zola, who played 35 times for Italy, finished his playing career back in his homeland with Cagliari. But which of his former team-mates make his team?

Gianluigi Buffon

Zola played with Gianluigi Buffon during the keeper's early days at Parma Zola played with Gianluigi Buffon during the keeper's early days at Parma

Zola played with Gianluigi Buffon during the keeper’s early days at Parma

I played with very good goalkeepers but the one that stands out is Buffon. He was very young when I played with him, it was his first game in Serie A, he had been training with us for a while and he was nearly impossible to score against. He was unbelievable covering the goal! He would come out two or three steps and then make himself so, so big that it was really difficult. I’m not making this up! He was an unbelievable goalkeeper!

Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi led with actions rather than words, according to Zola Franco Baresi led with actions rather than words, according to Zola

Franco Baresi led with actions rather than words, according to Zola

It goes without saying! He was one of those players who didn’t talk too much, very quiet. You expect when you go to play for the national team and you’re going to be playing with Baresi, because he is such a big character, that he is going to be very vocal but actually it was exactly the opposite. Very quiet but a lot of stuff going on. He was the captain and he was a classic example of leading by example. Not a lot of words but a lot of acts and on the pitch he was unbelievable.

Marcel Desailly

Marcel Desailly gets the nod over Paolo Maldini due to his understanding with Baresi, Zola says Marcel Desailly gets the nod over Paolo Maldini due to his understanding with Baresi, Zola says

Marcel Desailly gets the nod over Paolo Maldini due to his understanding with Baresi, Zola says

It’s a pity because I have to leave out players like Paolo Maldini – unbelievable! – but in five-a-side, it is better to have the one I chose. It’s painful but I have to leave him out, Frank Lebouef, John Terry too, great defenders, but I’m going with Marcel Desailly. I thought Marcel was an amazing player and I also think because he played with Baresi, they will have a better understanding. I want to win!

Diego Maradona (c)

Zola believes Diego Maradona was best player of all-time after playing with him at Napoli Zola believes Diego Maradona was best player of all-time after playing with him at Napoli

Zola believes Diego Maradona was best player of all-time after playing with him at Napoli

The reason why I played two defenders was so that in front of them I could play, firstly Maradona. He is in everybody’s team. What can I say? He’s the man! From what I saw in training and in games, I would say he’s the best player ever.

Without being unfair to players like Pele, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, amazing as they are, this is my view based on living with him, seeing what he does in training, what he produces from his team-mates and the opposition. The fear that he used to create on the opposition side and the enthusiasm when Maradona was on fire, we knew we were going to win the game!

Careca

Careca's partnership with Maradona gets him the nod up front Careca's partnership with Maradona gets him the nod up front

Careca’s partnership with Maradona gets him the nod up front

I think with Maradona the player who can give the best is Careca. They played together in Naples and when it was their day, nobody could stop them! Not even Maldini, Baresi, Costacurta. They were great together and I remember games in training when they were together, you couldn’t see the ball because they were so fast! The way they used to pass the ball to each other, you couldn’t really get close to them.

Watch Gianfranco Zola pick his ultimate 5-a-side team in full on the Soccer AM YouTube channel!

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