Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has hit back at the "lazy" critics who claim he's just a work-shy star full of fancy tricks.
Cole's cheeky back-heel goal against Manchester United last Saturday set Chelsea up for a vital 2-1 victory over their Barclays Premier League title rivals. Cole's silky skills have grabbed all the attention throughout his career but those moments of class have given others the wrong impression of his commitment to a team ethic.
But Cole insists he works as hard as any winger in the game and the label of being a 'flair' player is simply unfair. "I have steel," Cole told the Evening Standard. "People who market me as just a flair player are a bit lazy. Come and watch me for five or six games. I don't think there is a winger or an attacking midfielder who works as hard as me."
He added: "I want to help my team. Sometimes I probably do it too much, maybe I should be a bit more clever, but now is not the time for that.
"Now is the time for everyone at Chelsea to do their jobs with no mistakes. If we don't make any more mistakes we could win a double."
The midfielder is still in the midst of contract negotiations with the club and many argue his future lies away from Stamford Bridge next season.
But Cole continues to insist he is happy at Chelsea and is reaping the benefits of long struggle to regain his fitness.
He has also been criticised by club coach Carlo Ancelotti and England boss Fabio Capello but still harbours hopes of earning himself a place in England's World Cup final squad this summer. However, if he fails, Cole certainly knows how to bounce back.
"I've had the broadest spectrum of ups and downs a footballer can have," said Cole. "I've captained a side to relegation (West Ham in 2003), I've won titles (Chelsea 2005, and 2006), I've missed out on playing in a major tournament (unused squad player Euro 2004) and also started a World Cup, where I scored an amazing goal (Sweden 2006).
"I've had all the highs and lows, which is a rich thing because life is about experiences. I just keep coming back, coming back stronger."
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