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Former Italian footballer Fabrizio Maiello has admitted he once tried to kidnap Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola during his time at Parma in 1994.
Zola spent three years with Parma, winning the UEFA Cup in 1995 and the European Super Cup in 1993 before joining Chelsea in 1996.
Zola won two FA Cups, a League Cup, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup’ and a UEFA Super Cup at Chelsea, scored 71 goals in 292 appearances for the club.
Maiello, who turned to crime after seeing his career end abruptly due to injury, came up with the idea to kidnap Zola while he was in prison.
Maiello said, according to The Sun: “We had followed him to and from training for weeks. We had followed him all over the country.
“The idea was to have two cars ram into his and then bundle him away. We would only hold him for two days – at that time, kidnapping was rife across Italy.
“We had followed him to a petrol station in two cars and he had stopped to fill up.
“The plan was to get him there and then. We got out of our cars, but then he walked towards us smiling and I suddenly thought, ‘What am I doing?’
“He actually came over to us and asked if we wanted his autograph. He was smiling and I just couldn’t go though with it.’
Maiello added: “We swapped a few words and I told him I was a big fan and in the end he actually autographed my identity card.
“As I handed him my ID he glanced down and saw my tattoo – a five pointed star which gave away I had been in prison; it’s a criminal sign you only do when you are inside.
“He quickly walked away and got back into his car and drove off – the other guys were saying ‘now, now, we have to do it’, but I said I couldn’t go through with it.”