Ashley Cole announced his immediate retirement from international football just hours before Roy Hodgson confirmed his 23-man World Cup squad on Monday.
Hodgson contacted Cole on Sunday night to inform the Chelsea left-back of his decision to not include him in this summer's squad, with Southampton youngster Luke Shaw and Everton star Leighton Baines preferred for England's flight to Brazil. Cole subsequently took the decision to make himself unavailable for consideration for a stand-by role.
Cole has endured perhaps his toughest season at Chelsea, rarely starting for Jose Mourinho's side although he did make the starting line-up for recent matches against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. However in the Champion's League semi-final second-leg at Stamford Bridge, Cole's inability to clear the ball from within the box allowed Madrid to score. In contrast both Shaw and Baines have both enjoyed good seasons to put themselves in the driving-seat for England, while both players have attracted interest from Manchester United.
In contrast Cole may have potentially played his last game for Chelsea against Cardiff, in an encounter in which he was named captain. Mourinho has hinted this week that the player might stay, however the manner in which Cole has handled the situation over the England squad sees him bow out with the respect that he deserves.
Cole's posted on Twitter: 'I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from England team now.'
He added: 'Baines and Shaw are great players, proved this season, and are the future of this country, it was a pleasure to get 107 caps.'
For a player who made his international debut against Albania in 2001, his decision to retire allows him the opportunity to focus on his club-career, wherever that may be. He will leave a legacy as being one of England's most consistent performers and, within his position, perhaps the top left-back in world football in recent times.
It would have been unceremonious for a player of his calibre and experience to have dragged out his international career beyond the World-Cup. Hodgson's inclusion of the teenager Shaw will likely be welcomed by fans calling for an experiment with youth at this year's tournament, however Cole's impact on the England squad over the past few years will mean that his name will be continually brought up should Baines and Shaw struggle to make their presence felt.
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