Even considering the roller-coaster fortunes of a professional footballer, it's remarkable progress for a player not considered first-choice striker a year ago. The 2008-9 season ended with Fulham in 7th place, the highest ever position in the club's history. Bobby's goal tally for the campaign? Two league goals from 32 starts. After an early belter against Bolton Bobby endured a long drought, not broken until the end of February.
At Christmas Dempsey was being tried up front in tandem with AJ, by Spring it was Kamara. Through his personal bleak midwinter Bob was routinely subbed by Roy after half-time. His frustration boiled over when that elusive 2nd arrived at home to West Brom. A close-range unmissable tap in on his favoured left-foot was celebrated with spitting vitriol in the very faces of fans at the Hammy End. Supporters got a repeat dose of disdain when a headed winner finally saw off plucky Swansea in a Cup replay two days later.
If Bobby thought a corner had been turned, it hadn't. No further goals arrived in the final 14 games, and with black humour the crowd continued to sing, "When you're sat in row Z and the ball hits your head, that's Zamora." Amore in the style of Dean Martin it certainly wasn't. The big man finished the season on the bench, and that summer when Hull City came in with an offer that would have seen Fulham take a profit on their fee to West Ham for our misfiring front man, most fans - including myself - were only too happy to see it happen.
Bobby turned Hull down. What happened next is the stuff of Boy's Own annuals. Somehow it all came right in year two. A year after that Swansea header Bobby was unrecognisable - bullying Cannavaro at the Cottage and getting us back into the tie with an outstanding strike six minutes after Trezeguet's early dampener. To unnerve a player of Cannavaro's experience that night, and thus contribute to his sending-off, truly was the fulcrum for the most famous result in the club's history.
How to explain the transformation? Was it all down to Roy? Did AJ's absence allow Bobby to blossom? Had the 4-5-1 formation and the tactics evolved for European nights on the road somehow given Bob the freedom to throw off the shackles of doubt? The touch and confidence that flowed back into his play was a miracle to behold.
Bobby reborn. And despite the theories advanced above, it all comes down to the man himself. Consider this from both camps after Saturday's game at Blackpool. First Ian Holloway, who coached Bob at Bristol Rovers. “Fulham are a fantastic club and I can't tell you how impressed I have been by them,” said Holloway. “Bobby looks like a proper player now. He is very clever and difficult to mark. I was happy when he went off to be honest.”
As for Hughes, he made the following statement this week. "When you come into a new situation you are not quite sure what you are getting, but Bobby is a top class Premier League striker. His link-up play has impressed me and is better than people give him credit for. Bobby is quite a package and a threat. His link-up play and team work is excellent and he is a big factor in why we have started so brightly. He is very confident in his game and he is enjoying his work. At the moment he is able to transfer the work on the training ground on to the field of play and is playing really, really well."
From a man who knows. We now hear that Liverpool made a late enquiry for Zamora this week, offering to double his money. On the day Benjani cites there is no team spirit at Man City and players are 'only motivated by the money,' how heartening is it to hear Bobby turned down the move.
The real credit for such a monumental transformation in form deserves due recognition - achieved through sheer hard work and determination. Mickey Adams, who knew Bobby at Brighton a decade ago, says, “He has matured mentally more than anything. He has always had goal scoring ability, but just needed to believe in himself at the right times.”
So, CONGRATULATIONS to Bobby Zamora, and well done to the board for moving swiftly to put our England international on £50,000 a week. That will keep the twins - and mum - happy. Let's hope after the current injury there are many more England caps to come.
The sullen goal celebrations of the past are long buried. Here is a man who makes us proud to wear the shirt.
Keep the faith