Date: 13th July 2006 at 8:30pm
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Orient finally said farewell to Gaby Zakuani as the 20-year-old defender signed for Premier League Fulham. The deal is potentially worth £1.5 million with an initial payment of £1 million with the remainder of the fee depending on appearances and a sell-on clause. The sale of Zakuani eclipses Orient`s previous record sale of £600,000 which was paid for the services of John Chiedozie.


Although manager Martin Ling was understandably disappointed at losing the services of his top defender, the O`s manager remains philosophical. “This is an unbelievable deal both for Gaby and the club. He will be a big miss to us having been with Orient for seven years, but we’ve secured a fair transfer fee for him and we wish Gaby all the best at Fulham”. Ling revealed that Orient were not in a position to refuse the offer from the side that they sensationally dumped out of last season`s F.A. Cup. “This was an opportunity that he could not turn down and it would have unfair of us to stand in his way. I feel a sense of personal pride having taken Gaby from the under 15s and youth team to the senior set up and moving to the top flight can only further his development”.

‘Chris Coleman has followed him for nine months and Fulham have had scouts watching him at every one of our home games this season, so they’ve done their homework and I’m sure Gaby will be a success at his new club

Zakuani joined the O`s at the age of 13 and made his debut at the age of 16 in March 2003 at Bournemouth. Zakuani clocked up 99 appearances and scored 3 goals whilst becoming an integral piece of the Orient side that won promotion to League One last season. His performances alongside captain John Mackie have catapulted him into the big time and as Ling revealed, Fulham have been watching him for quite some time. “Chris Coleman has followed him for nine months and Fulham have had scouts watching him at every one of our home games this season, so they’ve done their homework and I’m sure Gaby will be a success at his new club”.


It must be mentioned that although it is a great shame to lose the services of a fantastic player like Zakuani, it would take a hard hearted O`s fan to begrudge him the opportunity of playing at a higher level. Gaby leaves with the world at his feet and we at Vital Orient would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank him for his hard work and dedication whilst wearing an Orient shirt.