Oh Bobby Zamora

by Lydia on January 16, 2018

It’s Bobby Zamora’s 37th birthday today so in celebration of the striker’s 37 goals for Fulham I thought that I would have a look back over his time on the banks of the Thames and pick out a few of my favourite strikes.

Roy Hodgson had a real knack of bringing in players and getting more from them than they had ever given and the double signing of John Pantsil and Bobby Zamora from West Ham in 2008 was just another example of that. Pantsil became a fan favourite quickly for his energetic displays alongside his frequent lap of honour after every home game victory, but it took Zamora a bit longer to feel the love. He scored only 4 goals in the 2008/09 season with us and a lot of fans had him down as a bit of a flop. The turning point came the year after he signed when Fulham and Hull City had agreed a £5million transfer fee but for the striker himself to turn down the move in favour of remaining at Fulham. And what a decision it proved to be for both player and club!

The 2009/10 season will live long in the memories of Fulham fans thanks to our remarkable run in the Europa League that saw us narrowly lose out on the silverware because of a deflected Diego Forlan strike well into extra-time. Although an ankle injury hampered Zamora’s chances in the final, it is fair to say that we wouldn’t have made it that far if it wasn’t for the goals and general play of our big front man. His seemingly telepathic partnership with both Clint Dempsey and Zoltan Gera proved lethal and many a defence struggled to handle him. It wasn’t just his knack of scoring important and impressive goals, it was his hold up play and strength that made him so difficult to play against. The more I think about it, the more I think that it is a Zamora-esque player that we are missing in attack this season. But it is a reminder that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge the strikers we have in our possession this year. Zamora only netted 4 times in his first season with us while one Aboubakar Kamara, who would probably be even stronger than Zamora, already has 6 this season.

I’ve tried to refresh my memory of each of Zamora’s goals and have picked out a few of my favourites. Looking back, it’s no surprise that he pushed his way into the England ranks during his time with us! So here you go, in no particular order-

Fulham 2-1 Bolton- last minute freekick to seal the win (21st February 2010)

As is normal with teams playing in Europe on a Thursday night, Fulham really struggled in the opening half against Bolton Wanderers at the Cottage and went into the break 1-0 down. Bolton who were struggling to get out of the relegation zone must have thought Christmas had come around again when Chris Baird accidentally helped them on their way to a 1-nil lead but Fulham turned it around after the break. But it wasn’t until Bobby Zamora’s expertly despatched 20-yard free kick into the top corner in the dying seconds of the game that points were confirmed.

Fulham 4-1 Juventus- Bobby Zamora equalises early on (18th March 2010)

Picture the scene; 4-1 (on aggregate) down against a European giant meaning that all seemed lost when Bobby Zamora shows incredible poise in the box to spark a remarkable comeback. I remember that night so well, but I very nearly missed it! My Granda came every Thursday night for tea so my mum refused to let 17 year-old Lydia watch the game until dinner was finished. It’s fair to say that I have never eaten so fast and managed to turn the TV on just as Zamora caught the ball on his chest to set himself before rifling an effort past Chimenti. Beautiful stuff.

Wolfsburg 0-1 Fulham- Zamora goal after 21seconds (8th April 2010)

With Wolfsburg having gained a vital away goal in the previous tie, Fulham’s slender lead against the German Champions was fragile indeed. But Zamora decided that he wanted to ease the pressure early, and boy did he, after just 21seconds of the away tie. The way he spun in the box leaving poor Jan Simunak for dead before delicately passing into the bottom right hand corner of the goal was brilliant. It was a goal of pure skill, and sent Fulham into the Europa League Semi-finals.

Fulham 6-0 Port Vale- Zamora blasts in from a tight angle (25 August 2010)

I know it was against lower league opposition, but this goal was superb. Delightful build-up play from Fulham and a two-one between Gera and Zamora left the big striker nearly at the by-line but when everyone in the ground thought that he was going to cross, he decided to thunder the ball into the far corner of the goal from a very tight angle leaving the keeper with no chance. Magic.

Fulham 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk- 25yard driven shot to put Fulham ahead (18 February 2010)

This goal was everything good about Bobby Zamora. Precision, poise and power. Again Zoltan Gera had a part to play when he flicked the ball between his legs for Zamora to run on to. But when everyone thought the striker would take a touch, he unleashed a powerful drive that went into the back of the net off the crossbar. Cue limbs from all around Craven Cottage.

Some fantastic memories in there. Even though his last couple of seasons with Fulham were plagued with injury, he gave us enough memories to last a lifetime. Happy Birthday, Bobby Zamora!

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After picking up thirteen points from a possible fifteen over the last three weeks, the Championship table provides plenty of reasons for Fulham fans to feel positive this morning. The Whites sit just a point off the top six following the late, late drama at the Riverside on Saturday and Slavisa Jokanovic, who some supporters were eager to sack only a little while ago, would be forgiven for smiling at the way in which his side are coming into form at the start of another calendar year again.

It isn’t just that the Whites have accumulated 22 points out of the last thirty, but that Fulham, who had previous turned in some flat displays (think Griffin Park and the Stadium of Light for examples of pretty lamentable defeats), have begun to marry the magnificent wins, like the one at Cardiff on Boxing Day, with performances full of character. If the point gained from 2-0 down a few days later at Hull didn’t offer an indication of this team’s desire, then the way Jokanovic’s men managed to pull off a victory at the Riverside on Saturday showed that one of the division’s most entertaining sides can also register scrappy victories too.

As I’ve written recently, grinding out those gritty, undeserved victories is the hallmark of a promotion contender. The weekend win over Middlesbrough, who had bossed the first period and had the better of the chances throughout, was a heist of the history order made possible because Jokanovic’s charges knuckled down – recognising that this was a day where their fluent football wasn’t coming off – and simply refused to be swept away under a tide of home pressure. That Ollie Norwood’s last-gasp penalty so enraged Tony Pulis, a man whose comments after the sickening events at the Prestfield almost twenty years ago still rankle, only served to make it sweeter.

The away success this reminded me most of was the scarcely merited win at Huddersfield in March 2015 where Kit Symons’ men survived two Nakhi Wells penalties, were reduced to ten men for the last half an hour, and – having clung to the advantage that came from Alex Kacaniklic’s early corner – somehow sealed the points when Seko Fofana sprinted half the length of the pitch in stoppage time. That goal arrived in the sixth minute of an added time, whilst Norwood’s latest impeccably taken penalty came a minute earlier, but the feeling of unadultered joy among Fulham’s long-suffering away support was just as euphoric.

The enraged reaction of one Boro supporter after the final whistle went viral on Saturday night – and it is an entertaining as anything Arsenal Fan TV could have put together following the Gunners collapse at Bournemouth yesterday. The home side were clearly in the ascendancy for much of the contest and the buoyancy of their start undoubtedly unsettled Fulham, but for all of Adama Traore’s electric pace and Boro’s pressure in the final third, Marcus Bettinelli was not required to make a save throughout.

Fulham’s defence, superbly marshalled by Tim Ream as he notched up a century of appearances at centre back, showed a resilience they might not have managed earlier in the season. They were certainly fortunate that Rudy Gestede contrived to mess up two glorious one-on-ones and would have breathed a sigh of relief when Britt Assombalonga missed two glorious opportunities to seal the victory in added time, but the longer the game went on you could see the visitors growing in confidence.

Jokanovic, too, deserves some credit for the way he reacted so swiftly in the second half. With the Whites missing the guile of Tom Cairney and struggling to adjust to Middlesbrough’s high intensity pressing and direct approach – even after his half-time team talk, the Serbian introduced Tomas Kalas at centre back and switched Ryan Sessegnon to the left wing position, where he relishes influencing a contest. That gave Fulham more of an outlet at the other end of the pitch – and an opportunity to apply some pressure on a Middlesbrough defence that had previously enjoyed a quieter than expected afternoon.

Pulis was raging afterwards that the rub of the refereeing decisions didn’t go for his team. On another day, Kalas would have been penalised for his maneuvering of Martin Braithwaite off the ball in the penalty area that was akin to something you might have seen in a wrestling ring on a Saturday afternoon in the 1980s. But if Boro had buried anyone of the six or seven highly presentable chances, then their supporters wouldn’t have been quite so exercised by the fact that Geoff Eltringham once held a Sunderland season ticket. Many were quick to condemn Norwood for going down easily and winning that decisive spot-kick, but a player of Grant Leadbitter’s experience should have known better than to lunge recklessly inside his own box with time ticking away.

I don’t know if the two managers – who held contrasting views of the key incidents – discussed them over a bottle of wine following the final whistle. Jokanovic could have recounted the phantom Burton penalty if he wanted to, but Fulham probably deserved the little bit of fortune that earned a first win on Teeside since 1984. I still remember Rob Styles pointing to the spot when Edwin van der Sar caught Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink well outside the area back in 2005 – and costing an incredulous Chris Coleman one of those rare away wins. Perhaps the bigger injustice came two seasons later at Craven Cottage when David Healy was denied a late equaliser when his stoppage time shot was smuggled out of the Middlesbrough net by a certain Mark Schwarzer.

The Serbian head coach was nonetheless right to laud his players’ spirit following the slenderest of victories. Neeskens Kebano alluded to the need to believe right until the end – and it is these sort of victories that will be necessary to make headway in a league that remains so crazily unpredictable. Norwood’s own determination to make the rest of the division sit up and take notice, as he told FulhamFCTV after the final whistle, is exactly the attitude Fulham must retain until May if only because nothing is settled in January.

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Jokanovic says referee got penalty calls right

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Jokanovic’s joy at Fulham’s ‘great win’

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Norwood’s late penalty steals the points

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