Zola returns to Chelsea as Sarri's assistant

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The new coach will be assisted at Chelsea by compatriot and fans' favourite Zola, who is excited about the "new adventure"

Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola has returned to the Premier League club as assistant to new head coach Maurizio Sarri.

The former Italy forward spent seven years at Stamford Bridge between 1996 and 2003, making 312 appearances and scoring 80 goals.

That haul included the winner in the 1998 European Cup Winners' Cup final against Stuttgart in Stockholm – one of four major honours Zola lifted with the west Londoners.

"For me it is an amazing thing," he told Chelsea's official website. "I am very willing to work hard because it is going to be a difficult challenge, but I am pleased to be here, and to work hard with Maurizio to be successful.

"It would be great to be successful with Maurizio and for the club and I will give my best, as I did in the past as a player.

"I am very much looking forward to the challenge in general. I would love us to start well and we are all very excited to start this new adventure."

Zola headed straight off with Sarri and his squad to Perth for Chelsea's opening pre-season match.

The travelling party mixes youth with experience as Chelsea await the return of their World Cup stars but David Luiz, Marcos Alonso, Davide Zappacosta, Cesc Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata and new signing Jorginho are all present.

"It is a long way to travel but we are very pleased to go there and entertain our supporters over there," added Zola, who has managed West Ham, Watford and Birmingham City in England, along with Cagliari back in his native Sardinia.

"I know they are big fans so it will be a pleasure."