English Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola appointed Birmingham manager

Birmingham City have appointed Gianfranco Zola as their new manager following the sacking of Gary Rowett.

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Gianfranco Zola has been appointed the new manager of Championship side Birmingham City to replace the sacked Gary Rowett.

The Blues announced on Wednesday that they had parted ways with Rowett, despite Birmingham sitting seventh in the Sky Bet Championship and just three points behind Reading in third place.

Former Chelsea and Italy striker Zola, 50, has signed a two-and-half-year contract with the West Midlands club.

The developments come in the wake of the new Chinese owners - who took control in October -  making three new boardroom appointments on Monday.

A club statement read: "The club is delighted to announce that Gianfranco Zola has been appointed our new manager.

Zola has been out of work since leaving Qatari club Al-Arabi in June. He was in the running to take over at Hull City in the summer but the deal did not materialise.

After retiring in 2005 he had a spell as Italy U21 assistant coach before taking over at West Ham in 2008. He then led Watford to the Championship play-off final in 2013 but resigned the following season.

He was sacked after less than three months in charge of Serie A side Cagliari before his appointment at Al-Arabi last summer.

His first match in charge will be against title-chasing Brighton, who visit St Andrew's on Saturday evening,

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