Gianluca Festa appointed head coach of Serie A side Cagliari

Gianluca Festa
Festa spent five years at Boro from 1997 to 2002 and played in the 1997 FA Cup final loss to Chelsea

Gianluca Festa has been appointed head coach of Italian Serie A side Cagliari until the end of the season.

The former Middlesborough defender, who was born in Cagliari, replaces Zdenek Zeman, who left his post on Tuesday.

Festa, 46, who was once linked with the Leeds United job, has never managed a Serie A side and was sacked by third division Lumezzane in March 2013.

Cagliari are 19th in the table, nine points from safety with seven games remaining.

Zdenek Zeman
Zdenek Zeman won two of his 21 games in charge in two stints at the club this season

Festa also played for Portsmouth, Inter Milan, Roma and Cagliari in a 23-year playing career.

He had a brief spell as assistant manager to Giorgio Melis in 2010 at Cagliari before taking over the Sardinian club's reserve team for the following two campaigns.

His first match in charge will be at Fiorentina on Sunday, when Cagliari will attempt to find some form having lost seven of their last eight league games.

Zeman, 67, took over in the summer but was sacked just before Christmas, with former West Ham and Watford boss Gianfranco Zola replacing him.

Ten league games later Zola was sacked, with Zeman returning to the club.

But the Czech-born Italian resigned after picking up one point from his five games in charge.

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