The real reason Gianfranco Zola is choosing West Ham over Newcastle

The Italian isn’t a fan of Dennis Wise’s sense of humour


It’s widely reported that Gianfranco Zola will be announced as West Ham’s new manager within 48 hours despite his former Chelsea teammate Dennis Wise supposedly showing an interest in taking him to Newcastle.

Some reports suggest that Zola would prefer to live in London than Newcastle while others claim that the Italian is looking forward to working with compatriot Gianluca Nani.

However, the latest extract of Wise’s autobiography, which is being serialised on The Spoiler, exposes the real reason: Zola wasn’t very impressed by Wise’s practical jokes:

None of the stunts I pull are meant to be malicious or are intended to hurt anyone. They are just to make life a bit more colourful – although I am not so sure Gianfranco Zola or Glenn Hoddle saw the funny side of a couple of my pranks.

Franco is a lovely bloke – he wouldn’t harm a fly and would not think ill of anyone. So when he was reading a book in English to improve his grasp of the language, he did not suspect a thing when I kept asking him about it. “What is that book?” I’d say. “Is a spy book, a thriller…you know, Wisey, a mystery,” he answered. Every time I saw him his head was buried in this book and I’d always ask him about it. “Yes, is a good book,” he said. After about the tenth time, he is such a lovely bloke that he said, “Wisey, you are interested in this book, yes? I will buy you one for yourself. Is a good book.”

What he didn’t know was that I had a plan. When he left the book down one day, I managed to tear out the last chapter. Then our regular chats resumed. “How is it, the book?” I would always say. “Very good, very exciting. I can’t wait to find out what ‘appen in the end” was his reply every time I asked – until one day he wasn’t reading it any more.

“Finished the book, Franco?” I asked. “How was it, a good story?” “For long time, yes,” he replied. “But Wisey, the ending, it was strange, very strange.” I couldn’t hold it back any longer and just burst out laughing. Then I explained what I had done and all he could say was “Bastard, you bastard”. Anyway, I promised him he could have the chapter I had torn out back if he scored in our next game against Crystal Palace. And he did.

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