Ashley Cole’s Won the European Cup…and 100 Caps for England!
It took as many circumventions (in part designed by the beloved FA) as one could imagine possible, but Ashley Cole has finally become the seventh English player to have reached a century of games for his country. Every Chelsea supporter rejoiced in the moment, as every supporter of England should have been. It stands as a testament to what we already know about our very own Ashley.
I know I am not alone when I say that I experienced a tremendous sense of pride and honour at this accomplishment. Hardly anyone deserves it more, as such a dependable and talented player. Each game, Cole puts his head down, gets on with it, gives his all because he loves it. He doesn’t need the captain’s armband to mark the milestone, to command the flank, to stand out. That he has always been part of the starting lineup for each one of his appearances is to me a further confirmation of these attributes.
The problem with Ash is that he goes completely unnoticed most of the time-but not for his lack of effort on the pitch or his inability to turn up on match day; quite the opposite. We take it for granted that, week in week out for Chelsea, or for England whenever he is called upon, he shows up and does the business. We only realise when he’s absent how valuable he really is in defence and attack.
His regularity in the side for club and country, and the consistency with which he is able to defend, run up and down the wing, and even score occasionally, no matter the opponent-and he’s faced quite a few notable ones- is not as common to come by in his fellow leftbacks. Despite FIFA’s slightly skewed opinion on the world’s football greats, it is no secret that Cole is probably currently the best in that position in the game today.
For this of course I am thrilled that Cole has signed another year for the club. It reassures me knowing that we will maintain that class on that side of the park. He truly is, to an extent, irreplaceable, and although Ryan Bertrand will eventually be a worthy replacement, as he has proven through his quality so far, it is still a bit of time until he can give us (if ever) what Ashley has contributed so impressively over the years, and we know Ashley still has a lot to offer.
Although much maligned by everyone in England, except Chelsea fans and a select few others who have actually had the chance to get to know him/appreciate his skill, Cole is a strong and intelligent thinker and reader of the game. His love for his job is obvious, as is his desire to get on the pitch and do his thing. Away from the football field, he comes over quite well in interviews, and, as we know, is not frightened to stand up for what he believes in. He speaks his mind, no matter the cost, and while that might be somewhat foolish and perhaps not well thought through, it shows that the steely character he displays on the pitch is the same off it. Twitter has indeed been a wonderful insight into who he is, particulary when he has a go at bitter Arsenal fans, who in reality know what they lost in seeing him play for Chelsea and England. And let’s not forget- he is the king of singlehandedly getting the greatest hashtags known to the football community trending worldwide within minutes.
My proudest song at the Chelsea-Arsenal matches this season has been, “Ashley Cole’s won the European cup,” and I absolutely loved sitting behind him in the MHL, watching him relish every moment played against them, his thirst for showing everyone that he came to Chelsea for the right reasons, so apparent. And his decision has been more than justified: he has now won the League, and the FA Cup four more times, bringing his total to seven, in itself an unbelievable achievement. He has added to his trophy haul the greatest honour in European club football, a campaign in which he played a crucial part, not least his penalty in the shoot-out, which was my favourite (technically at least) of the lot. Ashley Cole deserves to have that medal, and that star on his shirt, and so, so much more.