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Soccer-Zola returns to Chelsea as Sarri's assistant

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Soccer-Zola returns to Chelsea as Sarri's assistant

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LONDON (Reuters) - Former Chelsea striker Gianfranco Zola has returned to the club as assistant to new manager Maurizio Sarri, the Premier League side said on Wednesday.

Zola spent seven years at Stamford Bridge as a player, scoring 80 goals and helping the club win two FA Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and one League Cup.

"For me it is an amazing thing," Zola said in a club statement, which described the former Italy international as one of Chelsea's "all-time greatest players".

"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."

Fellow Italian Sarri was appointed last week to replace compatriot Antonio Conte, who was sacked, a year after leading the team to the title, after Chelsea failed to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Sarri, the 59-year-old former Napoli boss, had his first news conference on Wednesday in which he said he wanted to keep Belgian forward Eden Hazard at the club and improve him as a player.

Zola's coaching career has seen him manage West Ham United, Watford and Italian side Cagliari.

He joined Birmingham in December 2016, but quit four months later after a poor run of results.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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