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Mar 7, 2012

Zola: Di Matteo can be Chelsea success

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola thinks that Roberto Di Matteo has taken on a "big challenge" by stepping into the Stamford Bridge hotseat, but sees no reason his former team-mate can't bring success to the club.

• Chelsea blog: Tougher tests lie ahead

Di Matteo, 41, was put in interim control of the Blues following Andre Villas-Boas' dismissal on Sunday and led them to a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Birmingham in his first game in charge.

It is widely believed that Di Matteo is only in temporary charge and will eventually be replaced by a bigger name, but Zola - who played alongside him for six years at Chelsea - thinks his compatriot has the tools to make an impact.

"I'm still in touch with Roberto and I believe it is a big challenge for him but it is an opportunity that could give him a lot of success," Zola told ESPNsoccernet. "I'm sure he knows that and he will give it his best shot because not only is he a good manager but he is a Chelsea man and will want to do well with the club.

"Roberto is a quiet person but at the same time is very stubborn and determined and I'm sure his determination will benefit Chelsea."

Zola, a Stamford Bridge icon who scored 80 goals in 302 games for the Blues, says he feels sympathy towards Villas-Boas after his exit, but recognised that the Portuguese did not meet the club's lofty expectations.

"It is always very difficult to see a club you love go through a difficult time," Zola said. "I'm a manager and of course it's not pleasant to see another manager going - you don't want situations like that.

"When you are in charge you want to at least finish the season and judge from there, but the club has got its own ideas and its own targets that you have to respect and expect.

"The important thing now is that Roberto has this opportunity and that he does it well, for himself and for the club."

Gianfranco Zola will be one of a host of former Premier League stars turning out at the 2012 Barbados British Airways Football Legends Invitational from May 26-27.

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