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Zema Abbey

Zema Abbey
Norwich Career: 2000-2004 (63 appearances, 8 goals)
Current Club:
Date of Birth: 17/04/1977 
Nationality: English


Norwich City signed Cambridge striker Zema Abbey for 350,000 on 15th December 2000 over a month since the move was first mooted by the media. 6ft3 striker Abbey signed for Cambridge from non-leaguers Hitchin the previous year and had made 22 appearances for Cambridge scoring 5 times. He made his Canary debut in the 2-0 defeat at Grimsby on 16th December 2000. Zema's brother Nathan has also played league football, keeping goal for Luton, Chesterfield and Boston amongst others.

Unfortunately for Zema, a knee injury ruled him out of the majority of the 2001/02 season after he had made just 7 appearances scoring once. He returned to action during the autumn of 2002, primarily as substitute and scored his first goal after injury at Grimsby on 28th December 2002. Despite making seldom appearances, Football Rumours claim that Wolves manager David Jones has targetted Abbey as the man to restore Wolves' promotion race !

Zema spared City's blushes when he scored the only goal of the game in the 90th minute in the FA Cup fourth round clash at home to non-league Dagenham & Redbridge. He finished the 2002/03 season with 6 goals to his credit.

In only the third game of the 2003/04 season, Zema injured his other knee at Sheffield United and was ruled out of the remainder of the season. Although he didn't play again and was out of contract at the end of the season, Norwich offered Zema a three month short term contract in which to prove his fitness. In August 2004, manager Nigel Worthington agreed that Zema could join Boston United on loan to gain match fitness and experience. Although slightly delayed by yet another injury for the luckless Zema, he eventually joined Boston on 26th August. Norwich then revealed that they would not be renewing Zema's short-term contract when he returned from loan.

After his release from the Canaries, Zema joined Wycombe Wanderers on a one month contract to see if he met their needs. On 18th November 2004, he signed a similar contract with Bradford City until January. "I'm glad to have him on board. He's got a good pedigree," said Bradford boss Colin Todd. "He was unlucky with an injury earlier in the season and I'm hoping he can rekindle the form he has shown in the past. I'm sure he can." Zema made his debut for the Bantams on 20th November against Brentford in a dramatic game that saw Bradford win 2-1, Abbey scoring one and being sent-off.

Zema was released by the Bantams on 20th January 2005. After training with Stoke, Zema joined Torquay on 2nd March 2005. He was released two months later following Torquay's relegation to League Two. In July 2005, Zema trained with Conference champions Barnet in the hope of a contract. He scored twice for the Bees in their 3-2 win over Cheshunt. Zema then trained with both Havant & Waterlooville and Stevenage at the beginning of August 2005.

Zema signed for Forest Green Rovers on non-contract terms in mid-August and made his debut for them as substitute in the defeat away to Altrincham on Saturday 20th August 2005. He was released by Rovers at the beginning of May 2006 at the end of the 2005/6 season.

He then embarked on talks with Nationwide North club Kettering Town about joining them for the new season. Zema was invited to join the Poppies for pre-season training sessions by boss Morell Maison. Zema said: "There isn't a deal done at the moment but we are trying to work towards sorting something out. I have come down to get a feel for the place. I like what the management have to say in terms of their ambitions and also the mix of the players they have. It looks very positive at the moment. I had a year in the Conference last season. But I live in Luton so I feel now is the time to start playing a bit more local instead of travelling all over the country. I have known Morell for a while and he got in touch. It is not going to do me any harm by coming down here. I know some of the players and from what I have seen I am more than happy. It's down to the powers-that-be whether something can be sorted out. I have not signed anything yet but I am enjoying it and we will just have to see how it goes."

The Poppies boss said: "Zema brings a proven pedigree. I have known about him for several years and he is a player I would love to work with. He has scored at all levels but has been unfortunate with a couple of injuries. He has been looking around for somewhere to settle and he has been with us for a couple of weeks now and seems very comfortable.He has had one meeting with the chairman and the idea is that we get them around a table and see if we can make everything fit so that he can be here for the next couple of years." The deal was completed shortly before the beginning of the 2006/7 season despite interest from Stevenage and York City.

Zema was released by Kettering in November 2006 and signed for Barton Rovers in January 2007. He moved to Halesowen Town in November 2007

In December 2008, Zema was linked with Brackley, Corby and Hitchin, with the former two clubs making seven day approaches for his signature. The Bedfordshire-based forward has just set up his own business and it is believed the lure of playing closer to home may tempt Abbey to leave The Grove.

Zema moved on to play for Arlesey Town in the 2009/10 season where he is Assistant Manager. He was promoted to manager in late June 2011. Previous manager Gary King, who led the team to become champions of the Southern League Division One Central and victory in the Beds Senior Cup in 2010/11 resumed his role as Director of Football while Adam Turner becomes Abbey’s assistant manager. Chairman Manny Cohen said on the appointment: “Zema did a fantastic job last season in our 120th anniversary year as assistant manager and along with Gary he helped make the team tough to play against. Zema has a lot of playing experience with teams such as Norwich City and we are all confident that he is the right man to lead the team to even more success next season."

Abbey recruited his brother Nathan, a former professional goalkeeper, as Assistant and pair led the club to 18th in their first season in charge before enjoying a very successful 2012/13 campaign, which saw them finish sixth and win the Southern League Cup.They made a solid start to the 2013/14 campaign and were ninth as of 8th November with 19 points from 13 games. However, the duo decided to take on a new challenge and joined St Neots, who are second-bottom of the division with just two wins all term. Zema takes up the role of joint manager alongside Gary King, while Nathan will work as their assistant boss.

St Neots chairman Mike Kearns said: “We needed an experienced but proven management team that can take us to where we want to be, and in Gary, Zema and Nathan we have secured exactly what we wanted. "

He returned to Arlesey as joint manager alongside his brother in February 2015. They left the club at the end of the 2017/18 season.

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