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Football: Gianluca's parting shot at Zola.

GIANLUCA VIALLI aimed a bitter parting shot at Chelsea last night - and appeared to point an accusing finger at Gianfranco Zola.

Speaking for the first time since his dismissal, Vialli blamed "Mr Nice Guy" for being partly responsible for his undoing at Stamford Bridge, and although he did not name him, Italian sources are convinced he was referring to Zola.

Zola played golf on the day that Vialli was sacked and the Italian coach waited 24 hours before commenting.

In a statement released on his behalf by personal assistant Virginia d'Amore, Vialli "regretted the unexpected decision of Chelsea to dismiss him as manager of the team" and expressed his "full gratitude to this prestigious club which gave him the chance of a great professional experience".

But the statement then added: "It seems to Mr Vialli that his boss, Colin Hutchinson, lacked confidence in his conduct, which seems rather bizarre since, under Mr Vialli's management, the club won five trophies in two-and-a-half years. This scenario inevitably resulted in Mr Vialli's sacking."

The statement continued: "Mr Vialli understands that this is all part of the job and that is why he has always taken full responsibility for what has happened under his management. However, there are responsibilities that Mr Vialli believes should have been shared by someone else, someone who was, unfortunately, far too concerned about his image as Mr Nice Guy to give the support any manager would require."

Ironically when Ruud Gullit was sacked, Zola was embarrassed to be implicated, without his knowledge, to the plot to unseat the Dutchman.

Zola was invited to entertain Brian Laudrup and his family, while Gullit was unaware of the transfer talks in the week in which he was dismissed and then replaced by Vialli.

Zola's feud with Vialli can be traced back to after the FA Cup final win over Aston Villa.

Then, when Zola called Vialli in Sardinia, his coach informed him he planned to buy two strikers and the former Footballer of the Year, at the age of 34, would be treated like David Ginola had been at Tottenham.

Zola was so furious he wanted to quit, but Hutchinson acted as the intermediary to bring him and Vialli together.

Zola felt betrayed when Vialli continued to substitute him, and the situation reached breaking point in the Arsenal match when Zola felt he had been duped into staying at the club.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Harris, Harry
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 14, 2000
Words:399
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