‘We had a very united changing room’ – Zola reveals the secret to Chelsea’s success during his playing days

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The former Blues forward believes the relationship between the foreign and English players was key to the club’s achievements when he was a player

Gianfranco Zola believes that the unity of the dressing room during his time as a Chelsea player was the secret to their success.

The Italian is now the Blues’ assistant manager, having returned to the club as a coach following a glittering seven-year spell in which he claimed two FA Cups, a League Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year award twice.

Zola says he was excited about playing outside of his homeland and feels that the relationship between the English and foreign players in the Stamford Bridge dressing room was a key component in their hunt for silverware.

“I was interested in joining Chelsea because I was keen to play abroad,” Zola said, speaking exclusively to DAZN and Goal.

“Playing in a different league, speaking in a different language and experiencing a different culture. That was something I really wanted to do.

“My first day with the club, the day that I signed for Chelsea [was] definitely a great day for me. I was with Ruud Gullit and we took pictures at Stamford Bridge. This was, in my opinion, the start of a fantastic adventure.

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“We created a truly beautiful atmosphere between the foreign and English players. We had a very united changing room, which is what allowed us to achieve those results.”

Zola reminisced about his winning goal in the final of the 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup, where he came off the bench to decide a cagey affair against Stuttgart – his first European title with the London outfit.

He added: “The goal that I scored in the [Cup Winners’ Cup] final against Stuttgart [was] another very important day for me, especially because I wasn’t meant to play in the final, having suffered a pretty bad knee injury just three weeks prior.

“I really didn’t think I was going to play. So being able to make it, to enter the pitch and score was very important for me.

“This was a very important trophy for what was a great group of players. So I’m very happy about it.”

Having previously helped to deliver continental glory as a player, Zola has now done likewise as a coach, with Chelsea bringing the curtain down on their 2018-19 campaign with a 4-1 victory over Arsenal in the Europa League final.

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