Calvin Zola Player Profile
Debut: Gillingham (H, 0-1), 02/09/2014
Stevenage continued a new trend of signing strikers whose surname begins with ‘Z’ in summer 2014, with Calvin Zola joining up with the squad not long after Francois Zoko had moved on. It was one of a number of much-needed additions that summer as Boro’ prepared for life in League Two.
The powerful centre forward – born in the Democratic Republic of Congo – started his career at Newcastle United, but found it tough to break into the first team. A loan spell at Oldham Athletic was to give him his first taste of action in 2004, returning a handful of goals at Boundary Park.
After leaving St James’ Park, he moved to Tranmere Rovers but encountered visa issues after his first season. Thankfully, a solution was reached and he was handed a full visa to remain – staying on the Wirral for a further three seasons, before a £200,000 deal took him to Crewe Alexandra.
Zola continued to enhance his goalscoring credentials at Gresty Road, but went out on loan at Burton Albion after two-and-a-half years at The Railwaymen. It was to be a prelude to a more permanent association with Burton Albion after Crewe released him in May 2011.
A couple of years at Burton enabled Zola to really establish himself as a striker of note in the lower reaches of the Football League, enough to capture the attention of Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen. However, his stay north of the border lasted just one season before he joined Boro’.
And his stay in North Herts was also to last just the one year too; blighted by injury, Zola found first team opportunities very few and far between and could well have been a factor in the club’s decision not to renew his contract in summer 2015.