At about 8:30pm on Sunday evening, the ringing of the telephone reverberated around Ashley Cole's Surrey mansion. The Chelsea left-back declined Roy Hodgson's offer to be included in his stand-by list and then took to Twitter to announce his retirement from international football.
He accepted Hodgson's considered decision with such grace and class, acknowledging the quality of both Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw and the need for youth in England's World Cup squad, yet Hodgson was wrong to disregard an accomplished member of the team with 107 caps.
Regardless of exhaustion or fatigue, Cole has consistently transferred his outstanding club form onto the international stage, excelling for England ever since his debut in Tirana. He relishes battles with the best in the industry, his individual bouts with Cristiano Ronaldo a thing of legend.
Shaw has excelled at Southampton this season, earning his first-call up in February against Denmark to join the substantial English international contingent at St Marys. His 45-minute cameo at Wembley against the Danes, replacing Cole at the interval, was an illustration of the vibrancy and energy he will provide Hodgson with in Brazil. Yet he is a talent for the future.
Cole, with 107 caps, is the ideal back-up to the seemingly first-choice Baines. Hodgson will need an experienced player to cover for the Everton left-back was he to suffer a dreaded injury, and the magnitude of the event could get to the inexperienced Shaw.
Cole's star is yet to dim, as proven by his substantial contributions to Chelsea's recent shutouts against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, where he excelled despite his inactivity under Jose Mourinho.
Following months on the Stamford Bridge bench, February's friendly against Denmark was the perfect illustration of his wonderful athleticism and retention of the quality which established the 33 year-old as one of the best left-backs in the profession.
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