Top 25 Chelsea players of the Premier League era - #5

Sports Mole's countdown of the top 25 Chelsea players in the Premier League era continues with number five - Gianfranco Zola.

Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola celebrates scoring against Manchester United on December 16, 1998.© Getty Images

While Arsenal had Dennis Bergkamp and Manchester United had Eric Cantona, Chelsea found their own foreign wizard in the early years of the Premier League when they brought Gianfranco Zola to the club from Parma in 1996.

The diminutive Italian made a habit of scoring spectacular goals during his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge, perhaps most memorably producing an outrageous mid-air back-heel flick from a corner to score past Norwich City in 2002.

Zola's Chelsea career may not be as trophy-laden as the others who share a top-five spot in this countdown, but he was integral to their revival in the late 1990s and helped the club to two FA Cups, the League Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup between 1997 and 2000.

Voted Chelsea's Player of the Year on two occasions - and their greatest player of all time in a 2003 poll - Zola was also named the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1997.

The forward eventually left for Cagliari in 2003, by which point he had scored 80 goals in 312 appearances for Chelsea, including 59 in 229 Premier League outings.

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