Di Matteo can succeed at Chelsea - Zola

PA Sport

Gianfranco Zola has backed Roberto Di Matteo to earn the Chelsea job on a permanent basis - but is coy about the prospect of joining the club's coaching staff himself.

Di Matteo, who was placed in charge until the end of the season following Andre Villas-Boas' sacking on Sunday, won his first match at the helm on Tuesday night as Chelsea beat Birmingham in an FA Cup fifth-round replay.

Speaking at the launch of this year's Barbados British Airways Football Legends Invitational, Zola told Press Association Sport: "Roberto has got a big opportunity and I personally believe he's got the qualities to do a good job."

He added: "I really hope that he's going to do well. He's a Chelsea boy as well, he's a Chelsea hero, and so he's well represented."

Zola, whose name tops numerous polls of Chelsea's greatest ever players, has been linked with a return to the club since Villas-Boas' demise.

Confirming he was keen to return to management, the former West Ham boss said: "Chelsea is a club I care about, but I respect other choices. I keep supporting the team and, as far as I'm concerned, I keep working and getting ready for when the opportunity will come for me.

"I don't like really proposing myself for whatever role. The important thing is Chelsea does well because it's a wonderful club and they deserve the best."

Abramovich reportedly read the riot act to Chelsea's players after sacking Villas-Boas, telling them they were as much to blame for the club's plight as the Portuguese. Speculation is rife Abramovich will jettison some of the older squad members this summer.

Zola said: "All I can say is that they are players who are 33, 34, and I believe that they have still got something to give. Whether they're going to be giving it for Chelsea or for another club, I don't know."

There were constant rumours of dressing-room unrest under Villas-Boas and Zola said: "When you want to achieve something, one of the main things is to stick together. Only by doing that can you go through the difficulties. I think it is the moment where Chelsea players, managers, club, and supporters have to do that."

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