Former West Ham United striker Carlton Cole has revealed that Gianfranco Zola was the only manager he worked with at Upton Park that had faith in him, in an exclusive interview with Football FanCast.
Cole spent nine years with the Hammers between 2006 and 2015 and found himself out of favour on a number of occasions.
However, with 68 goals in 293 appearances for the club, he was usually able to win over the managers he worked with.
When asked whether he played his best football under Sam Allardyce in East London, Cole claimed it was actually Zola as he was the only boss he worked under that had faith in him.
“No, I think I played my best football under Zola,” he told Football FanCast.
“Sam played me in a different way than Zola, he used me more of the big man up top, an aerial threat.
“But Zola used me more as a footballer because as a team we were playing good football on the floor. My goal away at Wigan Athletic is proof of that.
“The only time I didn’t have to battle to stay in the team was under Zola because he had faith in me.”
Confidence and feeling support from your coach is very important for footballers and it is a shame that Cole never always quite felt that during his time at Upton Park.
It is interesting that while Cole’s most successful goalscoring season came under Allardyce, the faith he felt under Zola is what allowed him to play his best.
While the Hammers struggled in Zola’s second season at the club, Cole was top scorer in both years and clearly enjoyed his time working with the Italian.