Stevenage continued our new trend of signing strikers with a surname starting with ‘Z’ in summer 2014, with Calvin Zola joining up with the squad. It came not long after Francois Zoko had moved on; one of a number of much-needed additions as Boro’ shaped up for life back in League Two. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the powerful centre forward started his career at Newcastle United. He found it difficult to break into the first team at St James Park, so loan time at Oldham Athletic gave him his first taste of action.
His time with us in North Herts lasted just the one year; blighted by injury, Zola found first team chances hard to come by. That could well have been a factor in the club’s decision not to renew his contract in summer 2015.
Calvin Zola: Before Boro’
After leaving St James’ Park, he moved to Tranmere Rovers. But visa issues after his first season got in the way until reaching a solution; receiving a full visa to stay on the Wirral for a further three seasons. After that, a £200,000 deal took him to Crewe Alexandra – and Zola continued to enhance his goal scoring credentials. Two-and-a-half years after joining the Railwaymen, his time seemed to be coming to an end; going on loan to Burton Albion.
It was a prelude to a more permanent association with the Brewers; Crewe releasing him in May 2011. A couple of years at Burton saw Zola really establish himself as a striker of note in the lower reaches of the Football League. It was enough to capture the attention of Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen, at least. His stay north of the border lasted just one season, however, before he joined Boro’.