Ashley Cole has called time on his 20-year playing career.
The former Arsenal, Chelsea, Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby County left back will go down as one of the best full backs in the game, with the England international winning three Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, Europa League, League Cup and seven FA Cups during his glittering career.
Cole, 38, most recently joined Derby on a short-term contract last season after spending three seasons playing for the Galaxy in Major League Soccer, and revealed he is now looking forward to move into coaching.
“After hard consideration, it’s time to hang my boots up and look towards my next chapter, which will hopefully be coaching,” Cole said. “As a young kid, I never expected to play one game or be a professional. Looking back, to be able to say I played in World Cups, Champions League finals, being lucky enough to lift Premier League titles – it’s a young kid’s dream. I fulfilled my dream and now I look to the future, hopefully as a great coach.”
Cole’s decision to leave Arsenal for Chelsea in 2006 was a huge talking point for many years, as the Arsenal academy product upset the majority of their fanbase as he joined the Roman Abramovich-led revolution across London.
He made 107 appearances for England and is considered the Three Lions’ best-ever left back, as he played at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups as well as EURO 2004 and 2012.
Despite a late scare, dominant Brighton and Hove Albion put an end to Frank Lampard‘s run in the FA Cup with a 2-1 defeat of Derby County at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia scored in the final dozen minutes of the first half for the Seagulls, who will learn their quarterfinal foe on Monday.
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Substitute Ashley Cole scored in the 80th minute for the Rams, who were heavily outshot in the match.
It was Cole’s first goal in England since 2012, when he bagged a Premier League marker for Chelsea against Stoke City.
Locadia was injured just before the Seagulls conceded, and looked to be in considerable pain with an ankle injury.
American attacker Duane Holmes started up top for Derby but was subbed after 45 minutes. The 24-year-old Columbus-born man has become a regular starter under Lampard.
Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole won eight major trophies together as players, now they’re teaming up once more — only this time, left back Cole will be playing for manager Lampard.
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Derby County announced on Monday that the 38-year-old Cole has signed a six-month contract to aid the Championship side’s push for Premier League promotion. The Rams currently sit sixth in England’s second division, holding onto the fourth and final playoff place by a slim two-point margin.
Cole has been without a club since the 2018 MLS season ended and LA Galaxy declined his option for 2019.
Lampard, predictably, is quite pleased he’ll be working with his former teammate and longtime friend in an all new capacity:
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure Ashley’s services for the rest of the season.
“He’s a fantastic player, a quality left back, and he also brings great experience to the dressing room.
“Ashley is in good shape, which doesn’t surprise me because he’s an excellent professional, and he will compete for a place in the side like every other player here.
“I’ve made my feelings known over the last couple of days just how highly I think of Ashley and I have no doubt whatsoever he will be a positive addition to our squad.”
Ashley Cole probably thought that when he joined the LA Galaxy in 2016, it would be the last club he played for before, literally, relaxing on a beach in retirement.
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Considering he was 36 at the time — he is now 38 — it seemed obvious that England’s 107-times-capped left back would play out a final few years in MLS before calling full-time on his decorated career. Three years later, Cole might still do just that.
He might also resume playing after receiving a six-month contract offer from Championship side and promotion chasers Derby County, who are now coached by one of Cole’s longtime teammates and friends at Chelsea and England, Frank Lampard.
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Cole has been without a club since his option was declined by the Galaxy following the end of the 2018 season.
According to the Guardian, the chance to play alongside a largely young, but promising, squad of players and to help Lampard guide the club to the Premier League in his first season as manager is very appealing to Cole.
With his contract up with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Ashley Cole is now a free man.
The Galaxy declined their option to keep Cole, 37, as the former Arsenal, Chelsea and AS Roma left back will now decide whether to continue his career in MLS, move elsewhere or call it quits.
As per leg rules, LA announced on Monday which players it has exercized its option on and which had their options declined. Michael Ciani, Brian Sylvestre, Ariel Lassiter, Sheanon Williams, Rolf Feltscher, Baggio Husidic and Servando Carrasco have also had their option declined.
The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos, Ole Kamara, Romain Alessandrini, Sebastian Lletget, Bradford Jamieson IV and Perry Kitchen are all part of LA’s roster for 2019.
Cole has become an influential figure for LA in recent years, wearing the captains armband for the 2018 season. However, it wasn’t a successful one as the five-time MLS Cup champs blew a 2-0 lead on the final day of the season to lose 3-2 and miss out on making the postseason. With no current head coach after the departure of Sigi Schmid in the final months of the season, it appears the Galaxy are clearing house.
With plenty of talented attacking players such as Zlatan, Gio dos Santos and Alessandrini around, sorting out their defense (the fourth worst in 2018 in the West with 64 goals conceded) should be the main offseason project for a franchise which has now failed to make the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.