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Sep 10, 2008

Zola agrees three-year deal with Hammers

Gianfranco Zola has agreed a three-year deal for him to take over as West Ham's new manager, club sources have confirmed and he has already set out his vision for attractive, attacking football.

The former Chelsea player, one of the greatest imports the Premier League has seen will replace Alan Curbishley after his fellow candidates - Slaven Bilic, Michael Laudrup and Roberto Donandoni - all withdrew from the race and he will be flying in to London on Thursday to sign his contract.

Curbishley had been criticised by some sections of the Hammers' support for failing to play with style and being too defensive, but Zola will already have won over those doubters by promising to entertain in his first club job.

Zola, who will leave his role as joint coach of Italy's Under-21 side to move to Upton Park, told the Daily Mail: "I only know one way to play: on the floor, attacking football, the way things should be done. I want to excite people, that is why we play isn't it?

"The Under-21s play the way football should be played. I try to put a smile on their faces and I can tell you they put a smile on mine with the way they play.

"This is an opportunity in the Premier League and an opportunity I didn't expect, but it's an opportunity I can't turn down. The hardest thing was to say goodbye to those players in the dressing room.

"Everything has to be agreed with the federation, but I am confident that it will be resolved when I return to Italy. There are still talks, but I am sure they will go well."

Despite speculation linking fellow Under-21 coach Pierluigi Casiraghi with a role at West Ham, he insists he will not join Zola. "I'm not going to West Ham," Casiraghi said. "I don't know what will happen, but I know I want to be at the Euros with these lads, they deserve it.''

Graeme Le Saux, a team-mate of Zola's at Chelsea, believes West Ham have landed a great signing.

Le Saux said: ''West Ham have pulled off a major coup. It's been a bit of an unsettled time for the club but every one of that squad will be excited. They will be looking forward to that first training session.''

Zola has already revealed he is committed to a philosophy which will excite the Hammers fans.

He said: ''I only know one way to play: on the floor, attacking football, the way things should be done. I want to excite people, that is why we play isn't it?''

He also urged West Ham fans to cast aside his links with Chelsea after he admitted the chance to manage the east London club was one he could not resist.

''I know there is a rivalry between Chelsea and West Ham, but that is not a problem. My playing career is my past,'' Zola added.

''This is a new adventure for me. I spent seven years at Chelsea and they were seven of the best years of my career, I loved playing there but the fans must understand that I have a new career now and my playing career is in the past.''

Meanwhile, Chelsea skipper John Terry has backed Zola to be a success at West Ham - and to one day become manager at Stamford Bridge. He said: "He is a Chelsea legend. I'm sure one day he'll be back at Chelsea.

"He's managed the [Italy] under-21s for a while and has a bit more experience.

"It will be great for him to take the job and get more experience and hopefully get the experience to one day become Chelsea manager.''

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