Bobby Zamora: Talentspotter
West Ham fan Bobby Zamora is proving as prolific as his childhood heroes Tony Cottee and Ian Wright. He's already powered past his goal target for his first season at Brighton. "At the start of the season I set myself the target of 10 or 15 goals," he says, "so I'm delighted to have reached that at this stage. Any more goals are a bonus now."
Zamora hopes to further emulate his big-name role models. "Hopefully one day I'll play in the Premiership," he muses. "Tony Cottee is still playing and still notching and I'm sure Ian Wright could still fit into any side. To be able to do it for so long and score great goals at the highest level is obviously something I'd like to do."
The 6ft 1in striker is just at the beginning of his career, however. He didn't break through during a goal-less year at Bristol Rovers, resulting in a month's loan at Micky Adams' Third Division Brighton last February. "Ian Holloway [Rovers manager] didn't rate me that highly," Zamora admits. "It wasn't so much an unhappy time there – I had a good time and learnt from Jamie Cureton and Jason Roberts – but I just wasn't given the opportunity to play. If I had I'd have taken it with both hands."
London-born Zamora wasted no time proving Holloway wrong. He scored in his first game on loan for Brighton. "Micky Adams called and said he wanted me to come permanently, the clubs agreed a fee and I was here three days before the next season," he says. "It wasn't a difficult decision. Ian Holloway said I wouldn't be in his starting line-up so I jumped at the chance to go anywhere and play football."
Zamora is confident of gaining promotion at the end of the 2000-01 season and is looking even further into the Seagulls' future. "Brighton's the only club in the region and we get huge support even in such a small stadium.
"This could be a massive club. The way we're playing we'll definitely be in the Second Division next year, then the First." If he keeps up his scoring ratio of a goal every game and a half, he could be right.
"The manager's been encouraging me, telling me to keep doing what I'm doing," Zamora says. That Micky Adams knows his football, you know.
Interview: Steve Bidmead. From the April 2001 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!