Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Boys Next Door Come out to Play; King and Cole Simply Best Mates off the Pitch

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Boys Next Door Come out to Play; King and Cole Simply Best Mates off the Pitch

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN CURTIS

TWO London neighbours will put their remarkable friendship on hold for 90 minutes on Sunday when they meet in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.

Arsenal's Ashley Cole and Tottenham's Ledley King live next door to each other in East London and the lifelong pals know it will be a nerve-wracking time for both households on Sunday.

But the fierce fan rivalry associated with North London derbies will not bother either of the England Under-21 players, who have come through the ranks of their respective clubs and remain firm friends.

However, the youngsters now find themselves living alongside each other as well as playing together at international level.

Cole's recent elevation to the senior squad under Sven-Goran Eriksson was welcomed by his Tottenham adversary who made the short trip to his neighbour's front door to congratulate him.

Supporters of both clubs might find it a little strange that they can even live in the same street but for Cole and King, the intense passion that such derby meetings can generate is reserved strictly for the pitch.

Once they are away from the spotlight, they prefer nothing more than to chill out with a game of pool at their local club. Whatever the outcome of the Old Trafford clash, their friendship will continue as it has done since they played against each other as juniors.

Cole said: "Ledley is one of my best friends and when I do go out, it is more than likely with him. It was a complete surprise when my parents moved house and ended up next door to Ledley.

"But we've been friends since the age of nine or 10.

I used to play against him in my London district so I have grown up with him. I used to play for a team called Puma and he played for Senrab so we used to meet quite a lot in cup matches. We now spend a lot of time encouraging each other because we have been friends for so long.

"I know this is a big game for the fans but we would still rather be friends at the end of it. …

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