'Zola came close to being appointed Inter coach '

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The Italian's assistant has confirmed the Milan club held talks with the former striker before appointing Stefano Pioli as Frank de Boer's successor

Gianfranco Zola was "close" to being appointed Inter coach in November 2016, the Birmingham City manager's assistant Pierluigi Casiraghi claims.

After Frank de Boer was sacked by the Serie A side, former Watford and Cagliari coach Zola was reportedly among the frontrunners for the San Siro vacancy.

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Inter instead opted for ex-Lazio coach Stefano Pioli, but Casiraghi confirmed his fellow Italian Zola was in the running for the job.

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"We were close up until the last second when they opted for Pioli," Casiraghi told Mediaset. "I would've been Zola's assistant manager.

"It's a pity, because it would've been a great opportunity for us."

Inter are fifth in the Serie A having enjoyed a resurgence under Pioli, while Zola's Birmingham have slumped to 18th in the Championship.

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