Ashley Cole has revealed he played with a long-standing ankle complaint when he first joined Chelsea - but he is now fully fit, in top form and ready to win over England fans.
Cole arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006 with the nagging problem and has only played at full tilt this season, and the result has been one of the best campaigns of his career.
"I think so far it's probably been my best season since I went to Chelsea," said the left-back. "I've got through it without injuries and that was key. I came to the club with a bad ankle and it was always holding me back. But now I've got that sorted out and I feel fit and very fresh. So now I have to find my Chelsea form for England."
Cole has endured a mixed relationship with England fans.
They jeered him after a mistake against Kazakhstan in October and he wants to get in their good books with the return trip to Almaty next month and the Wembley clash against Andorra.
"It was difficult when they booed. I'm a normal personal, I'm just like you and just like everyone else - I have feelings and thoughts. So of course it hurt, I'm not going to sit here and say it didn't," said Cole, who was speaking on a visit to Raleigh School in Surrey on behalf of England team sponsors Nationwide Building Society.
"But you have to get on with it. It happens in football, you are loved one day and hated the next. You have to get on with it and that's what I've done. I've played the best I have for Chelsea so far. The Chelsea fans are happy and I'd like the same with my country.
"To be honest I don't think I've played bad for England, I've certainly not been as bad as some people say. That criticism has been hard to take.
"I don't think I've let the country down too many times. Of course I had that blip where I gave the ball away but a lot of players have done that, you can't play well every game in football and not make one mistake.
"I'm in a position where if I do give the ball away it's ruthless and you can get punished. I'm learning that now. But if I look over my career I've played 72 games and I think to say I've done well for my country."
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