Robert Lester Zamora (born 16 January 1981) is an English former professional footballer who played as a striker. Zamora began his career at Football League club Bristol Rovers, but was soon signed by Brighton & Hove Albion, where he found first-team success. Zamora scored 77 goals in three seasons and helped the club achieve two successive promotions.
Zamora training with Queens Park Rangers in 2014
|Full name||Robert Lester Zamora|
|Date of birth||16 January 1981|
|Place of birth||Barking, England|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|West Ham United|
|2000||→ Bath City (loan)||5||(7)|
|2000||→ Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)||6||(6)|
|2000–2003||Brighton & Hove Albion||119||(70)|
|2004–2008||West Ham United||130||(30)|
|2012–2015||Queens Park Rangers||83||(12)|
|2015–2016||Brighton & Hove Albion||26||(7)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Following a spell at Tottenham Hotspur, Zamora was signed by West Ham United, where he played for five years and won promotion to the Premier League. Zamora joined Fulham in 2008, where, in his first season, he played regularly but scored only four goals. However, Zamora's form in the 2009–10 season gained praise and subsequently saw the player gain a call-up for England. Zamora had an important role in Fulham's successes in the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Europa League, before transferring to Queens Park Rangers in January 2012. He returned to play for Brighton in 2015 and retired from football in December 2016.
Zamora also played for the England national under-21 team before gaining his first full cap at senior level almost a decade later.
Born in Barking, London, Zamora attended Essex Junior School (in Manor Park) followed by Little Ilford School before moving onto Barking Abbey Secondary School. As a boy, he played for Senrab in east London, alongside John Terry, Ledley King, Paul Konchesky and Jlloyd Samuel. A lifelong West Ham United fan, he started his footballing career as an apprentice at the club's "Academy of Football" but was released from the East London club on the same year group as Samuel, Fitz Hall and Konchesky.
Zamora joined Bristol Rovers as a trainee in August 1999, making a total of six substitute appearances for Bristol Rovers in all competitions, before joining Bath City on a one-month loan in early 2000, where he scored eleven goals in eight appearances, and then Brighton & Hove Albion on loan in February 2000.
Brighton & Hove AlbionEdit
Zamora joined Brighton in February 2000 on a three-month loan until the end of the 1999–2000 season, scoring six goals in six appearances. In August 2000, he made a permanent move to Brighton for a £100,000 fee. During his tenure he quickly established himself as a prolific goalscorer, breaking into the England national under-21 team and attracting interest from several higher-division clubs. He scored 83 times for the club in 136 appearances, helping Brighton win two successive championships as the team won promotion into what became the Championship. The Brighton fans had a chant they used to sing in his honour, to the tune of Dean Martin's That's Amore: "When the ball hits the goal it's not Shearer or Cole, it's Zamora."
Having been watched for much of the previous two seasons by the then manager Glenn Hoddle, Zamora moved to Tottenham Hotspur for a £1.5 million fee in July 2003. However, he struggled to gain a consistent first-team place at White Hart Lane, making only 18 cup and league appearances, eleven as substitute, and scoring a single goal, knocking West Ham United out of the League Cup in October 2003.
West Ham UnitedEdit
In January 2004, Zamora joined West Ham in a deal which saw Jermain Defoe go the other way to Tottenham Hotspur. He quickly made his mark, scoring on his debut as West Ham came from behind to beat Bradford City and also on his home debut, when he scored the winning goal against Cardiff City.
In the 2004–05 season, Zamora scored 13 goals, including one in the first leg and two in the second leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Ipswich Town and the only goal in West Ham's 1–0 victory over Preston North End in the 2005 Championship play-off Final sending West Ham into the Premier League. In the 2005–06 season, he made 42 league and cup appearances and scored ten goals as West Ham finished in the top half of the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final, for which he received an FA Cup runners-up medal, missing a penalty in the shootout against Liverpool. He was rewarded for his contribution to the team with a new four-year contract in January 2006, and extended it to 2011 in October 2006, saying, "I'm delighted to have extended my contract and I'm now looking forward to spending my long-term future at Upton Park. I've been here for almost three years now, and there is really no other place I would rather be. This is my club and wearing a claret and blue shirt is all I have ever wanted to do."
He started the 2006–07 season well, scoring five of the Hammers' six goals in the first four matches of the season but, as West Ham hit a bad patch that saw them struggling in the relegation places, he did not score again until January 2007. However, he ended the season with eleven goals, including a controversial goal against Blackburn Rovers in March 2007 and being the first player to score a winning goal against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in April 2007, as West Ham pulled off an unexpected escape from relegation. He made only 14 appearances for West Ham in the 2007–08 season after missing five months of the season with tendinitis suffered in August 2007 but scored against Derby in the Hammers' 2–1 win. By the end of the 2007–08 season, Zamora had made 152 appearances in all competitions for West Ham, scoring 40 goals.
In July 2008, Zamora and teammate John Paintsil were signed by Fulham for a joint £6.3 million fee, Zamora being £4.8 million of the total fee. In his first season for Fulham, Zamora struggled to find the net, scoring just twice in 35 league appearances over the 2008–09 season, despite generally playing well and playing a fairly important part in the team's success in his debut season. After the season had finished, Fulham and Hull City agreed a fee on 15 July, which would have seen Zamora move to Hull for £5 million. Zamora turned down the move to stay with Fulham.
Shortly after he turned down Hull, he played in a friendly against Peterborough United and scored two goals in a 3–3 draw. Four days later he made his UEFA Europa League debut, against FK Vėtra, scoring once and setting up two goals to give Fulham a 3–0 away advantage going into the next leg. He opened his 2009–10 Premier League account on the opening day of the season when a Clint Dempsey shot hit him on the back and beat David James in the Portsmouth goal. He scored his second goal of the season against Hull on 19 October 2009 by heading in a rebound in the 43rd minute. Fulham won the match 2–0. Scoring the lone goal against Sunderland, Zamora doubled his output from the previous season with his fourth goal of the campaign. In Fulham's UEFA Europa League match against Basel, Zamora scored twice in their 3–2 victory in St. Jakob-Park. On 19 December 2009, Zamora scored once again against Manchester United in their 3–0 win at Craven Cottage. On 5 January 2010, he dislocated his shoulder at the Britannia Stadium in Fulham's 3–2 loss to Stoke City.
Zamora struck the winner in Fulham's UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk, a match that finished 2–1. The strike was a powerful strike from outside the box that went in off the underside of the crossbar. Zamora then continued his scoring form when he scored a last minute free kick against Birmingham City to win the match 2–1. Zamora also scored Fulham's first goal in what was an historic UEFA Europa League comeback against Juventus, Fulham went on to win the match 4–1. Zamora was widely praised for the trouble he caused Juventus' veteran captain Fabio Cannavaro, prior to Cannavaro's sending off. He continued to impress on the European stage for Fulham; scoring in both legs in a 3–1 aggregate win against the German Champions Wolfsburg as Fulham progressed to the UEFA Europa League semi-final. They reached the final but were beaten 2–1 by Atlético Madrid of Spain.
On 10 September 2010, Zamora signed a new four-year contract with Fulham, which would have kept him at the London club until the summer of 2014. The day after, Zamora broke his leg during a match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Zamora made his return from injury as a substitute in the FA-Cup encounter against Bolton Wanderers on 21 February 2011. He marked his Premier League return, again as a substitute, with a match-deciding goal from the penalty spot against Blackburn Rovers on 5 March 2011.
Queens Park RangersEdit
On 31 January 2012, Zamora joined Fulham's west London Premier League rivals Queens Park Rangers on a two and a half year contract for a fee believed to be around £4 million. He scored on his debut on 4 February in a 2–1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. On 21 November 2012, it was announced Zamora would be out injured for three months due to requiring surgery on a hip injury. Zamora was a member of the Queens Park Rangers side which won the 2014 Championship play-off Final 1–0 against Derby County on 24 May 2014 at Wembley Stadium. He scored the only goal of the match in the 90th minute to return QPR to the Premier League after a one-season absence. In May 2015, Queens Park Rangers announced the release of Zamora.
Return to Brighton & Hove AlbionEdit
On 3 August 2015, Zamora joined former club Brighton on a one-year deal on a free transfer. He claimed that he turned down an approach by a team competing in the UEFA Champions League to return to Brighton. His first goal on return to Brighton was an 89th-minute winner against Leeds United on 17 October 2015, coming 4,549 days after his last goal for the club in a 2–2 draw at Grimsby on 4 May 2003. Zamora was released by Brighton when his contract expired at the end of 2015–16.
Zamora retired from football in December 2016. He had not played since March 2016 and had been struggling with a hip injury for which he had undergone an operation. His interests outside football include involvement in a social housing scheme with Rio Ferdinand and Mark Noble.
Zamora was called up for the England Under-21 squad for a friendly with Portugal in April 2002. Zamora was named in the England Under-21 squad for the 2002 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with David Platt, the then England under-21 team manager, saying of him, "My mistake was not going to have a look at him earlier than I did. He's been in one squad, did very well in training and came on for 25 minutes and did great. If I need a goal and look at my bench and see a player who has scored 30 for the past two seasons, there is a chance he could come on. He warrants his place. [...]" Zamora was capped six times for the England Under-21 team.
Zamora was watched by the Trinidad and Tobago coach, Leo Beenhakker, who also spoke to his club manager at the time Alan Pardew. However, Zamora turned down the chance of playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup with Trinidad and Tobago, saying in August 2005, "Trinidad is my dad's country and to play in the finals would be a dream but West Ham are more important. I am only thinking about the club at the moment and do not want to be distracted from that."
On 7 August 2009, it was revealed that Zamora and Jlloyd Samuel had received their Trinidadian passports, and would play for the Soca Warriors in their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against El Salvador on 12 August. However, Zamora did not get his first cap due to an injury he picked up while training. His form in the 2009–10 season led to calls for Zamora to be called up to the England squad, and there had been rumours that Fabio Capello had been visiting Craven Cottage to look at his performances. However, due to an Achilles injury, he was not included in Fabio Capello's provisional squad of 30 players for the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was announced on 11 May 2010.
On 7 August 2010, Zamora was one of five uncapped players named in the England squad for their friendly on 11 August against Hungary alongside Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill. On 11 August 2010, Zamora won his first England cap in a friendly, coming on as a half time substitute against Hungary in a 2–1 win at Wembley Stadium.
On 23 May 2011, Zamora was selected for the England squad to face Switzerland in the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier on 4 June at Wembley Stadium. On 15 November 2011, Zamora made his full England debut by starting in the 1–0 friendly victory over Sweden at Wembley Stadium.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Bristol Rovers||1999–2000||Second Division||4||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||6||0|
|Bath City (loan)||1999–2000||Southern Football League Premier Division||5||7||—||—||1[a]||1||6||8|
|Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)||1999–2000||Third Division||6||6||—||—||—||6||6|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||2000–01||Third Division||43||28||2||2||2||0||1[b]||1||48||31|
|Tottenham Hotspur||2003–04||Premier League||16||0||1||0||1||1||—||18||1|
|West Ham United||2003–04||First Division||17||5||—||—||3[c]||0||20||5|
|Queens Park Rangers||2011–12||Premier League||14||2||—||—||—||14||2|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||2015–16||Championship||26||7||0||0||0||0||0||0||26||7|
Brighton & Hove Albion
West Ham United
Queens Park Rangers
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