Joe Cole

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England playmaker Joe Cole retires

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Joe Cole has announced his retirement from the game at the age of 37.

Cole won 56 caps for England, scoring 10 times for the Three Lions, as he became a Premier League star with West Ham United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

He made 716 appearances in his career, scoring 104 goals.

The silky midfielder won three Premier League titles, a League Cup and two FA Cups with Chelsea and excelled at the 2006 World Cup for England before injuries hit his career hard.

A second spell at West Ham, plus time at Lille, Aston Villa and Coventry City followed in Europe before he moved to the U.S. in 2016 to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL and USL. He has recently played and coached with the Rowdies in Florida and hinted at moving into coaching as his next step.

A graduate of West Ham’s academy, Cole released the following statement on social media.

“After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. It has been a dream come true. All of it,” Cole said. “My favorite thing about being a professional footballer was the feeling you enjoy after coming back into the dressing room after a win. It will be difficult to replicate that but I’ll always remember all of my former team-mates who I shared that experience with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played with some of the very best players of my era and even more fortunate to call a lot of them friends.

“As a fan, I loved watching wholehearted, skilful players and this is what inspired me. I remembered what was special for me when I was sitting in the stands watching games and I tried to replicate this. I hope I was able to do this for some of the fans and people who have watched my games over the years. Winning trophies at Chelsea was particularly special for me. Those memories will live with me forever, as will the chance I had to share them with my family.”

Cole was truly one of the most gifted players England has ever produced and at Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge, and under Carlo Ancelotti, he was a huge part of their all-conquering teams. Cole played in the UEFA Champions League final for Chelsea in 2008 as they lost to Manchester United on penalty kicks in Moscow.

The Londoner had tricks and flicks galore but he often delivered goals and assists at crucial moments and he could play out wide just as comfortable as he was in central areas.

He will be remembered as a maverick with the ball at his feet and he certainly brought enjoyment to fans across the world with stunning goals and sublime pieces of skill.

Joe Cole talks “mishmash” of NASL level, MLS aims of Tampa Bay

Photo credit: NASL / Twitter: @NASLofficial
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Tampa Bay Rowdies man Joe Cole‘s word carries some weight in the English media, and the ex-Three Lions man was asked to assess the quality of the NASL.

Cole posted nine goals and seven assists in 24 matches for the Rowdies this year across their Spring and Fall seasons, and also was asked about the direction of Tampa Bay.

[ MORE: U.S. GK on trial at Everton ]

Here are his thoughts, taken from on Sky Sports TV in England…

On the standard: “Every team’s got 5 or 6 international, but they’re all sort of Ecuador, El Salvador. The standard’s okay, but then you’ve got some players who wouldn’t get into a League Two, Conference-style side. It’s a mishmash. There’s some players, you think, He’s got a chance here.”

On Tampa’s ambition: “The plan was always MLS but we couldn’t say that when we went out there. The whole thing the owner wants to do it take the club, cause it’s got a name Tampa Bay Rowdies from the 1970s,  to MLS. Now with all the politics is out of the way they can say, ‘This is what we want to do’ 2018, 19, 20, the stadium is being built so it’s all looking like going to MLS.”

Was it easy? “I loved the home games cause I can stroll down the bay, you get there an hour and a half before kickoff, stroll back stop in a nice restaurant, it’s lovely. But the away games are a nightmare. It’s like a three hour flight, change, hour flight, and you can play on some real bad pitches. Astroturf and things like that.  It’s the same like MLS, you can speak to Frank and Stevie, they are tough physically cause of the travel and the time zones.”
All-in-all, nothing wildly surprising — especially the travel bit — but it is interesting to hear Tampa Bay’s in-house goals were hardline MLS. And what’s wrong with Ecuador, Joe?

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VIDEO: Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Joe Cole bags a bicycle-kick beauty

Photo credit: NASL / Twitter: @NASLofficial
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In case you missed it, Joe Cole has decided earlier this year to bring his talents to these American shores as he enters the twilight of his playing career (he’s 34 now).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

No, he’s not playing in MLS. The NASL, rather, where he’s starring alongside Freddy Adu for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. On Saturday, Cole scored himself a stunning bicycle-kick goal to put the Rowdies ahead after 10 minutes.

American soccer is weird sometimes, but also really cool.

English striker Joe Cole heading to NASL side Tampa Bay

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Joe Cole left Aston Villa for Coventry City earlier this year, and now the 56-times capped England man is coming to the North American Soccer League (NASL).

[ MORE: Chatting with NASL commish Peterson ]

Cole has two goals and six assists in 22 games for the Sky Blues since arriving this season, and the 34-year-old would be the latest World Cup veteran to head to the NASL.

The striker had 10 goals for England, and has also played for West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille and West Ham United.

Here’s Coventry City manager Tony Mowbray, courtesy the BBC:

“I would have liked to have kept Joe,” said City boss Tony Mowbray. “He has proved his fitness and worth to the team

“He’s a fantastic character. No airs and graces, not looking for favours or extra days off and has shown his football ability.

“He can help us control matches but he’s made his decision for his family, and we wish him well. It might happen pretty quickly if he can get international clearance.”

Tampa is 3-2-2 to start the NASL season, and boasts a roster with Darwin Espinal, Eric Avila, Georgi Hristov and Freddy Adu.

Coventry City is really, really, really excited about Joe Cole

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It’s not all that often that a three-time Premier League champion spends time in League One.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League predictions ]

So it’s probably best to let Coventry City phrase it for us, because many of us are probably reacting the same way to the above headline.

It’s an “emergency loan” from Aston Villa, but Cole will certainly welcome the playing time. The 33-year-old has made a grand total of 51 PL appearances in the past four seasons between Liverpool, West Ham and Villa. His goal total? Seven.

You’ll be familiar with Cole’s manager, Tony Mowbray, and here’s what he says about the 35-day deal:

“I’m delighted to welcome such a high-calibre player to the club. … I’ve met with Joe and he has watched us play several times this season. He likes the way we play the game and because of that, he has shown a real enthusiasm to come and play for the club.”
They’re excited. And frankly, we’ll be interested to see what the longtime Chelsea man does down a couple leagues. Now are unrelated Coles like Andy (43 years old) and Carlton (free agent) interested in a spell with the Sky Blues?