Ashley Cole is comfortably one of the best defenders to have played in the Premier League, but he’s also among the most divisive.
Now seeing out the twilight of a career that’s included 15 seasons in the English top-flight, the LA Galaxy star won three league titles – two with Arsenal followed by one with Chelsea.
Cole traded Highbury for Stamford Bridge in 2006 following protracted and controversial negotiations involving secret meetings between him and the Blues.
He was alleged to have sat down with former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon to discuss a transfer without the Gunners’ permission – an offence for which the west Londoners were later fined.
Reflecting on the tumultuous deal in a 2014 book titled ‘Invincible’, Arsene Wenger, per the Guardian, said: "A regret of my career. He left on a misunderstanding between his agent and the club. A fantastic fighter as well. The rest of his career has shown how big a player he is. It should have been here."
While losing one of his key men to Chelsea signalled a power shift between the two rivals, the Frenchman unquestionably had a major influence on helping Cole establish himself in the first place.
As such, his decision to resign as Arsenal boss was always likely to strike a nerve with the left-back.
Cole is still an unpopular figure among some of the Emirates faithful, resulting in a mixed response to his contribution to the masses of kind words directed at Wenger.
While some applauded the former England international for expressing his respect for the 68-year-old, others couldn’t resist the opportunity to take yet another stab at a man they consider a traitor.
It’s nothing Cole hasn’t gotten used to over the course of his career, though most neutrals will recognise the sincerity of his message to Wenger.
He wrote on Twitter: “To the man who believed in me and trusted me to play in a great team, thank you for having my back.
“I will never forget the conversations we had and the belief you had in me thank you for some great memories and good luck in whatever is next for you.”
Classy enough, right?
Well, it seems that depends on where one’s allegiance lies among the London clubs.
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