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!