MILAN: Gianfranco Zola was fired as coach of struggling Cagliari on Monday after 10 league games in charge, despite the club describing him as "a great man" who had brought them international prestige.
In a typical Serie A twist Zdenek Zeman, 67, the man Zola replaced in December, is back at the helm.
Former Napoli, Chelsea and Italy forward Zola, who finished his playing career with the Sardinians in 2005, managed two wins, two draws and six defeats, leaving Cagliari third from bottom and four points adrift of the safety zone.
"Cagliari announce Gianfranco Zola and his staff have been relieved of the technical leadership of the first team," the club in a statement.
"It was a decision taken reluctantly against a great man who has written unforgettable pages in the history of Cagliari, bringing brilliance and giving international prestige to the land of Sardinia.
"He and his staff depart with thanks for the work they have done in recent months, carried out with dedication, professionalism and passion. We wish him heartfelt good luck for the rest of his career."
Zola, who was born on the Mediterranean island, was appointed after Czech Zeman, who is seen as the old romantic of Serie A with an attacking philosophy, claimed two wins in 16 league games.
The 48-year-old Zola began badly, losing 5-0 at Palermo, before Cagliari picked up with two wins and a draw in their next three games.
However, their last six matches have yielded one point and the writing was on the wall after Saturday`s 2-0 defeat at Sampdoria. In between they also lost 2-1 to Parma in the Italian Cup.
Zola previously spent 18 months at English second tier Watford, missing out on promotion to the Premier League in a playoff against Crystal Palace in 2013.
The Italian, who praised his players after the Sampdoria match and vowed they would keep fighting, became the seventh Serie A coach to lose his job this season.
Antonio Conte got the ball rolling when he quit Juventus in July, soon after signing a new contract, and was followed by Eugenio Corini (Chievo), Walter Mazzarri (Inter Milan), Pierpaolo Bisoli (Cesena), Stefano Colantuono (Atalanta) and Zeman.
It is common for Italian clubs to re-hire men they have previously sacked, partly because rules ban coaches from working at more than one Serie A club per season.