It is fair to say that, over the years, Ashley Cole has been a fantastic servant to his clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as to his country. Cole has been a consistent performer and very rarely misses games due to injury.
However, thanks to some poor decision-making off the field, the national press and opposing supporters seem to treat Cole as if he is nothing but a stain on the game.
Cole has had his fair share of off-field controversies and unwanted attention which brings in its own criticism, but in terms of his on-field achievements there is no doubt he should go down as one of the greatest full backs in British football.
To have achieved 100 caps for his country is an outstanding achievement. He has served his country very well. At club level Cole has fourteen domestic trophies to his name, including domestic football’s biggest prize, a Champions League winner’s medal.
Unfortunately for Cole, whether rightly or wrongly, his off-field antics have overshadowed his achievements. He is an easy target for the media and particularly for supporters.
However, it also speaks volumes for his professionalism that he is able to continually perform at such a high level, overcoming a lot of negativity and abuse. He lets his football do the talking for him and continues to perform week in week out.
Cole is just as important to Chelsea as Frank Lampard. Although Lampard has now scored his 200th goal and is on the verge of becoming Chelsea's top goal scorer, I believe that Cole's contribution has been just as vital to Chelsea over the years.
At the age of 32 Cole still has a number of years left in him at the top level and I can see him capturing more awards and trophies during the remainder of his career. Chelsea have recognised this with their new contract offer.
Hopefully when Ashley Cole retires he is remembered for all the achievements on the football field and not the off-field issues, he deserves that recognition.
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