Eighteen months ago, the suggestion that Bobby Zamora should be considered for the World Cup squad would have resulted in howls of derision from most football fans. Suggest it now and there will enough people willing to entertain the idea; some still consider it a laughable proposal, but looking at it objectively, it is no less absurd than suggesting Michael Owen should be on the plane to South Africa. Under Roy Hodgson at Fulham, Zamora has evolved as a player and is now one of the most effective target-men in the league. In what has become known as the ‘Heskey’ role, he has excelled at Craven Cottage in recent months and calls are increasing for Zamora to be considered by Capello as an understudy to Emile Heskey.
At 28, Zamora has had his share of failings in his career; his spells at West Ham and in particular Tottenham were not particularly successful and this is what makes his form for Fulham so much more remarkable. At Tottenham, Zamora struggled to establish himself in the first-team and only managed 1 goal in 18 appearances. His spell at West Ham was more creditable, especially in their first season back in the Premier League when he and Marlon Harewood took the league by storm. That West Ham side were brimming with confidence and Zamora fed off the positive atmosphere to turn in some fine displays. The high point was probably the 3-2 defeat of Arsenal at Highbury when Zamora used his physical attributes to dominate the Arsenal back-line. The problems began for Zamora when the feel-good atmosphere around West Ham detriorated. After a mixed second season in the top-flight with West Ham, Zamora fell out of favour and eventually moved to Fulham.
His first season at Fulham was poor; he only managed 2 league goals in 35 matches and he became something of a laughing stock as he missed some glaring opportunities over the course of the season. However this season, Zamora has flourished; an injury to Andy Johnson has allowed him to take centre stage and he has performed admirably. He has finally learnt how to make the best use of his strengths; his aerial prowess and link-up play. Fulham are blessed with a number of skilled midfielders in the form of Clint Dempsey, Zoltan Gera, Danny Murphy and Jonathan Greening, and Zamora has learnt to hold the ball up and feed his midfielders the ball intelligently. His finishing has improved this season and with 11 goals to his name already this term, it is not out of the question that he could reach 20 for the season. Roy Hodgson has been to key to unlocking Zamora’s potential and the player now appears confident in his own ability and both he and his club are reaping the benefits. It remains to be seen whether Capello and England will also look to benefit from his fine form.