The astonishing revelation about Zola has come from former Italian footballer Fabrizio Maiello, who turned to crime after seeing his career end abruptly due to injury.
While behind prison doors, Maiello came up with the plan with another group of inmates who were members of a notorious crime syndicate.
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola was targeted by kidnappers while playing for Parma in 1994
Maiello and the gang followed the Italian star in two cars as he headed into a petrol station to refuel.
However the former player, who admitted to watching Parma train while Zola played there, has revealed he couldn’t go through with the attempted abduction.
Published in the Sun, ex-Monza youth player Maiello said: ‘We had followed him to and from training for weeks. We had followed him all over the country.
‘The idea was to have two cars ram into his and then bundle him away. We would only hold him for two days – at that time, kidnapping was rife across Italy.
‘We had followed him to a petrol station in two cars and he had stopped to fill up.
‘The plan was to get him there and then. We got out of our cars, but then he walked towards us smiling and I suddenly thought, “What am I doing?”.
A notorious crime syndicate targeted Zola while he was refuelling at a petrol station
‘He actually came over to us and asked if we wanted his autograph. He was smiling and I just couldn’t go though with it.’
The notorious group targeted Zola in 1994 while he was playing for Parma, who were then owned by billionaire businessman Callisto Tanzi.
Maiello added: ‘We swapped a few words and I told him I was a big fan and in the end he actually autographed my identity card.
‘As I handed him my ID he glanced down and saw my tattoo – a five pointed star which gave away I had been in prison; it’s a criminal sign you only do when you are inside.
‘He quickly walked away and got back into his car and drove off – the other guys were saying “now, now, we have to do it”, but I said I couldn’t go through with it.’
Maiello, who was associated with the Magliana organised crime gang, now works as a gardener after eventually escaping the dangerous world of crime.
After leaving Parma, Zola went onto make a huge name for himself in England with Chelsea
Zola spent three years with Parma, winning the UEFA Cup in 1995 and the European Super Cup in 1993.
After making 143 appearances for Parma, Zola decided to move to Chelsea, where he would quickly become a fan favourite and made a huge name for himself.
The former forward, who won two FA Cups, a League Cup, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup’ and a UEFA Super Cup at Chelsea, scored 71 goals in 292 appearances for the club.
He has since forever been associated with the Stamford Bridge outfit and worked as assistant to Maurizio Sarri last season as they won the Europa League and secured Champions League qualification.