Chelsea legend named most 'annoying' player by Sir Alex Ferguson

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Chelsea legend named most 'annoying' player by Sir Alex Ferguson
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Sir Alex Ferguson has singled out Chelsea icon Gianfranco Zola as the player who annoyed him the most, but showered him with high praise.

Zola joined Chelsea from Parma in 1996 for a fee of £4.5 million and was part of a wave of continental players that moved to Stamford Bridge under Ruud Gullit.

The former Italy international spent seven years at West London before returning to Italy in 2003, and is widely regarded as one of the best foreign imports into the Premier League.

READ MORE: Sir Alex Ferguson called Chelsea legend 'every week' in bid to sign him

Whilst he was not able to play a role in the Blues winning the Premier League, Zola certainly made an impression, none least on legendary Manchester United manager Ferguson.

In 1997, Zola scored a memorable goal against United and Ferguson admitted afterwards, "He's a better player than I thought he was. He's a clever little bugger."

In an interview with Sky Sports, the Scotsman admitted that Zola's attitude on the pitch and quality on the ball on more than one occasion left him furious.

Now, little Zola, he annoyed me. He was one of those players who was unperturbed about who he was playing against.

He always seemed to have a smile on his face and that annoyed me. I said, "How can he be enjoying himself playing against United? Nobody else does."

He was fantastic. Talented. Beautiful balance. Brave.

The respect ran deep as Ferguson recalled a crucial FA Cup match, where he was forced to man-mark the diminutive Italian.

I remember we played Chelsea in the FA Cup a couple of years ago in the Treble.

We got them in the early rounds and we drew 0-0 at Old Trafford and I man-marked him. That's how much respect I had for him.

But he was a fantastic player. I loved watching him. He was enjoyable.

That was the thing, for me to say that of an opponent tells you how much I admire them.

During his time with the Blues, Zola won two FA Cups as well as a League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Charity Shield trophies.

He was named FWA Player of the Year in 1997 as well as Chelsea Player of the Year in 1999 and 2003, whilst also being selected in Chelsea's greatest XI during their centenary celebrations.

Zola's exploits also saw him awarded as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and inducted in both the English and Italian Football Halls of Fame.

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