Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Not a Machine like Maldini ... I Doubt I'll Play at 40; Ashley Cole Has Been Compared to the Italian Great Yet, after His Divorce from Cheryl Cole, the Critics Continue to Put the Boot in. EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Not a Machine like Maldini ... I Doubt I'll Play at 40; Ashley Cole Has Been Compared to the Italian Great Yet, after His Divorce from Cheryl Cole, the Critics Continue to Put the Boot in. EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

PUBLIC judgement of footballers is no longer solely framed by what they achieve on the pitch thanks to the increased scrutiny that comes with their exorbitant salaries and perhaps no individual's reputation has suffered more than Ashley Cole.

For Chelsea and England, the 29-year-old is a leviathan of the modern game; a consistently superb performer whose ability to ally defensive resilience with attacking incision marks him out as the quintessential contemporary full-back.

Cole misses tomorrow night's international against France at Wembley through injury but he joined Kenny Sansom as the most capped England full-back earlier this year after his 86th outing and at club level has won three Premier League titles, six FA Cups and one League Cup medal.

He should be revered as one of this country's genuine world-class talents at a time when faith in the national team remains shaken from the travails in South Africa.

And yet in many quarters, opinion is distorted by a turbulent period off the field that culminated in divorce from wife Cheryl in September.

Cole turns 30 next month - it is an age when players become starkly aware of their career's mortality. Injury forces him to sit out tomorrow night's friendly against France and affords him further chance for introspection.

"You do get a bit reflective at this stage in your career," he told Standard Sport. "There are a lot of youngsters coming through - we have Josh McEachran, who is 17, and you sit with him thinking: 'How old are you?' You do feel your age but being on the pitch makes me feel young and enthusiastic and healthy. That's what keeps me going every day in training.

"It's not down to me to get people to give me recognition - what can I do? All I can do is play well. What can I say? It's one of those things. It happens. I am just doing my job - playing as well as I can for Chelsea and trying to win things.

"I try my best for England, too, and what people think is out of my hands. I can't do anything about it."

Cole appears resigned to suffering at the hands of supporters only too willing to judge him through distorted vision and perhaps such ire is more easily navigated when those within the game are so effusive in their praise. Despite a surprise omission from the FIFA Ballon D'Or shortlist, manager Carlo Ancelotti has found many agreeable voices to his contention that Cole is the best left-back in the world.

Chelsea boss Ancelotti went further in comparing Cole to great AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini (left), not in playing style but for his professionalism, particularly in the face of such personal adversity.

"I don't listen to the good or the bad - as long as my team-mates are happy and my manager, too, and the fans seem to be happy, that's all that matters to me," he said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.