[Gianfranco] Zola turned down a reported £1.3m for one final year with Chelsea (about half his previous year's salary), more from elsewhere, in favour of Cagliari's comparatively slight €400,000 or so a year (around £280,000). When the Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea and raised the offer to £3m, Zola declined again - not because he had signed a contract, but because he had given Cagliari his word. It was the maturation of the bond.
Abramovich's response was innovative. He phoned Cagliari. How much, he asked, for the whole club? "I must say, I was really, really surprised at that," says Zola. "I took it as a compliment. But I had made my choice."
Could anyone want more to life than a tribute like this:
The club president, Massimo Cellino... ...returns with a blank postcard, grubby and creased. He has been carrying it in his pocket. It has come from England. "Dear Sir," it reads, "Gianfranco has left us and joined you - our loss is your gain. You are very, very fortunate. Please, please take care of him - he is one in a million, a great player, a great human being."