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Zamora talks of rollercoaster year

last updated Wednesday 06th October 2010, 7:02 PM
Fulham striker Bobby Zamora
Fulham striker
Bobby Zamora
Bobby Zamora
It has been a year of mixed emotions for Fulham striker Bobby Zamora. A rollercoaster 12 months saw him take in the highs of a shock Europa League final appearance against Atletico Madrid and a debut for England at Wembley in August.

But tempering those memorable moments has been a pair of devastating injuries: first the Achilles problem that prevented the most in-form English frontman at the time from booking a place on the plane to South Africa for the World Cup, and the recent broken leg suffered at the hands of Wolves' Karl Henry.

Zamora will undoubtedly look back at 2010 as his most successful year in football, but the timing of his latest injury was cruel. The 29-year-old had just opened his account for the season, having netted three goals in his previous two games against Port Vale and Blackpool, and Henry's mistimed challenge came exactly a month after his impressive Three Lions bow against Hungary.

Still facing at least another four months on the sidelines, Zamora's frustration is currently at its zenith as he deals with the exasperating experience of a forced rest period before a full schedule of rehab begins in earnest. Stranded in a no-man's-land of sorts, the former Brighton and West Ham forward cannot wait to feel like he is actually moving towards a recovery.

"It's getting there but it's going to be a long process," Zamora said. "It's starting to get to me now as the boredom is setting in. It's going to be a long slog but what doesn't kill me will make me stronger. That's the way I'm seeing it and I will use the time wisely. It's the lot [that I miss], going out seeing the boys out kicking the ball and enjoying training. It's the day to day stuff, missing all that. I'm going to use my time wisely, get back into the gym and coming back stronger and make it even harder for those defenders.

"It needs to be catalogued and people need to know what it [returning from injury] is all about. It is hard and it is boring and it is depressing. But you set your goals and you're slowly getting closer to them which pushes you on and when you get back you can really express yourself. I'm already looking forward to getting into the gym and battering that for a while! I don't have a specific game in mind but I've targeted February/March time to get back playing - it's a long old time away but that's the goal. I'm going to work hard and do everything I can to make sure I come back fighting."

Last season represented Zamora's most prolific campaign in professional football since he left Brighton in 2002-03, when his 14 goals failed to prevent the Seagulls relegation to League One. On the final day of that campaign, Zamora scored in a 2-2 draw away at Grimsby, but seven years on he experienced a significantly more impressive season climax in Hamburg. Diego Forlan ended Fulham's remarkable continental journey with an extra-time winner in the Europa League final, but while the football world may have been shocked that Roy Hodgson's side were even competing that night, Zamora insists there was no astonishment in the Cottagers' dressing-room.

"I don't think we were surprised," Zamora says. "I think, certainly at home, we are not scared of anybody, I think we can give anyone a good game and you can see that in the last two seasons. We were pleased with the way it went and we are looking to push on. This season, we haven't got the European distraction and we're out of the Carling Cup - we've got two competitions to go for and we are looking to crack on and do well in them."

Hodgson's departure to Liverpool over the summer was a big blow for Zamora and his team-mates, who were always quick to credit their boss for both the improved performances of the team and themselves as individuals. But Hodgson's successor Mark Hughes has been welcomed with open arms at Craven Cottage according to Zamora, who reveals that after a quiet start to life in London, the Welshman has settled in at the club and even banters with Fulham's strikers about the goals he scored during a glittering playing career.

"I was majorly disappointed [that Hodgson left],'' he said. ''He was tremendous for Fulham and tremendous for myself and I was gutted that he chose to leave but it is Liverpool and they gave him the opportunity to manage. I obviously understand where he is coming from. His organisational skills are what he's about, making players play as a team. He's mastered that and you've seen that with us in the last couple of years. He's good at his man-management and getting the best out of players and I am sure he will do well there.

"[But] Mark's been spot on since he arrived, really good. He was quiet for the first couple of weeks, I think he was just taking it all in and assessing everybody. He's been impressed with the players and we have been impressed with him and his staff - we're all looking forward to what's ahead. He hasn't mentioned anything about his time at Manchester City, he's the Fulham manager now and he's focused on that - he's a professional man, he wants us to do well and we're fully focused on doing just that. He's already spoken about the amount of volleys he smashed in, he loves that one and he's dropped that in a few times. He's a very good manager and, as I say, he's come out of his shell now and become a bit more lively, we're all pleased to have him at the club."

A return to club action under Hughes is Zamora's primary concern but after experiencing life as an England international in August, he has developed an insatiable appetite for another crack at representing his country, with the prospect of playing for Fabio Capello's side again providing him with excellent motivation ahead of his rehab.

"I was disappointed not to have gone to the World Cup, but that's football and I just missed out,'' he said. ''I was quietly confident that I'd get a call-up if I carried on how I had done and thankfully it came and I thought I did okay. I got the famous text from Michelle [Farrer, director of Club England team operations] and the rest is history.

"It was unbelievable - meeting up with the squad and training alongside the likes of Rooney and Gerrard was brilliant. It was enjoyable and I thought I did well in training and in the game, and afterwards I was chomping at the bit to do it again. I may be out for a while now but I've had a taste of it which has made me even more determined to get back."

A difficult few months await Zamora; there will likely be setbacks along the way and as an injured player, an even greater level of discipline and intensity will be required for him to work his way back to match fitness. But his will-power and determination should see him return to haunt Premier League - and possibly international - defenders on a regular basis again.

Source Mark Lomas at Soccernet
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