Ashley Cole – Most underappreciated player of his generation?

by admin

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

As he walks out to his familiar spot at left-back inside the Vasil Levski Stadium, Sofia, tonight, Ashley Cole will earn his 90th international cap.

He joins a very select group, with only legends Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (119), Bobbys Moore (108) and Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105) having more.  He is the most capped black English player, leading John Barnes by a dozen caps.

The Chelsea defender is hardly the lowest profile of the new generation of footballers-come-celebrities but it is fair to say he has quite subtly accumulated his England appearances. His PR skills are notoriously poor, from his calamitous departure from Arsenal to his current West London home to his recent air rifle incident and on-off marriage with national treasure and 21st Century Princess Diana, Cheryl Cole.

The scandal-ridden breakdown of his marriage to the Geordie lass spawned an image of a ‘loverat’ and traitor to the X Factor judge. The red tops and celebrity gossip magazines shredded what was left of his personal reputation, which then permeated into his professional life. He is booed and met with scorn at plenty of opposing grounds. However, is this truly justified?

Cole is undoubtedly the best left-back in the country, quite possibly even the world, and his commitment to his country has translated into him being probably the most consistent player of the Eriksson, McClaren and Capello eras. Since his debut against European juggernauts Albania in 2001, Cole developed into one of country’s best players at all of the major tournaments amongst otherwise disappointing teams.

The position of left-back is one of the least glamorous positions on the field so his excellence often goes unnoticed.  Twice the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year, he is also a constant presence at Stamford Bridge and should remain there for his remaining years.

When he finally hands over his number 3 shirt to the next England left-back, be it Leighton Baines, Kieran Gibbs, fellow Chelsea player Ryan Bertrand or whomever may emerge in the next few years, his successor will have big metaphorical boots to fill. It is merely a shame that his questionable character issues and numerous off the field disasters have somewhat got in the way of his fine footballing career.

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  • phil

    I’d pretty much go with that, he might not be liked much but as a footballer he NEVER makes mistakes.

  • Matt Quinn

    I think Cole is excellent defensively but very overrated when going forward. I dont think i have ever seen him put a decent cross into the box. I would like to see him rotated with Leighton Baines a bit more as i think Baines would add more when we require a bit of creativity to break down more stubborn teams.

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