Zola faces ex-Chelsea pal Mark Hughes' Manchester City tomorrow and said: "It was difficult for me to imagine myself as a football manager. Mark was unbelievable on the pitch in those days. It was my fortune as a footballer to have him on my side.
"On the training ground he was the worst training mate I have ever had in my career.
"But he is doing very well in his job. He did well at Blackburn and when he was with Wales. I have only admiration for him as a footballer and a manager."
In fact, Zola and Hughes were part of a Chelsea team which has given the game a handful of bosses including Gus Poyet, Dan Petrescu, Dennis Wise and Zola's assistant Steve Clarke.
Zola says: "That team was made up of intelligent people. You could see when they went on the pitch they didn't need to be told what to do. They were thinking players. It is not a surprise to see many of them doing the job as manager."