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Irons owe Zamora a debt of thanks

PUBLISHED: 12:15 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:27 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG BOBBY Zamora left West Ham £6million richer by accepting a move to Fulham this week. It is an appropriate parting gift from a player who saved the club from the brink of financial meltdown three years ago. Few supporters would have gues

By JONATHAN CLEGG

BOBBY Zamora left West Ham £6million richer by accepting a move to Fulham this week.

It is an appropriate parting gift from a player who saved the club from the brink of financial meltdown three years ago.

Few supporters would have guessed that Zamora could attract such an inflated transfer fee yet he has developed a welcome habit of swelling the Upton Park coffers.

The abiding memory of the striker's West Ham career is the close-range finish in the Championship play-off final against Preston North End in 2005, which sent the Hammers back to the Premier League two years after their relegation.

In that moment, Zamora struck gold by netting what is reputedly the most valuable goal in world football as West Ham regained their top-flight status and an estimated £30m share of the league's riches.

The club had been just days away from the expiry of their Premier League parachute payments and were facing a bleak future with some £33m owed to the bank.

But Zamora hit a hot-streak in the play-offs and averted an East End credit crisis.

The 27-year-old was the star of West Ham's promotion run, scoring three times over two legs in the play-off semi-final defeat of Ipswich Town before his decisive intervention at the Millennium Stadium.

His second goal at Portman Road, which sent the club to their second successive Cardiff final, ranks as one of the finest scored by any West Ham player in recent years - a measured, over-the-shoulder volley that he gently guided into the far corner.

Such spectacular efforts were typical of Zamora, whose strikes were more notable for their quality than quantity.

From the slalomed run and near-post finish at St Andrews in 2005 to the curling strike into the top corner at Highbury the following year, Zamora's goals will live long in the memories of West Ham fans.

Yet it is the forward's connection to the club that will leave the strongest impression.

In contrast to Jermain Defoe, the player he replaced at Upton Park, Zamora always seemed to consider it a privelege to pull on the claret and blue shirt.

Former manager Alan Pardew even revealed that the pressure of playing for the club he supported as a boy caused Zamora to seize up and suffer from cramp.

During the miraculous escape from relegation last year, Zamora battled through a knee injury that prevented him from training in order to help save the club from the drop.

His lobbed goal at the Emirates Stadium was one of the key moments in West Ham's bid for survival and helped avert another spell in the financial wilderness.

It should come as no surprise that his departure this week in a staggering £6.3m deal has netted the club another unexpected windfall.

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