Strange that me of all people should seem to be championing the Ashley Cole cause this weekend but he really impressed me for Chelsea last season and his form and attitude have undoubtedly carried over into the Euros.
Going into tonight’s game against Italy, the Chelsea left-back seems realistic about the task ahead, yet has his fingers crossed like the rest of us, saying “It is unfinished business. You play for your country and it is amazing to do that. But you play to win. I have never had the joy of winning with my country. I am not getting too ahead of myself or the team but so far it is going well. We have a tough game on Sunday but dreams come true and hopefully this can be one of mine.”
And whilst, even having watched Cole lately and listened to him articulate himself really well in a rare interview with the press, for me, Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard definitely captures Ash better than I could, saying “Ashley is the best left-back England have ever had and he’s shown that again out at the Euros. He has been brilliant. But that does not surprise me. I have seen him go toe to toe with the best names in the game and have never seen anyone get the better of him. Not Lionel Messi, not Cristiano Ronaldo, not anybody. He has been a first choice for four different England managers now, which is remarkable. He’s been the best left-back in England for years and to maintain those high standards over a decade is testimony to his skill and dedication.
Ash has got the lot. I remember him starting off as a youngster at Arsenal racing up and down the left. You could see he was special even then and he has maintained that level of performance for so long. Of course he is blessed with great pace but it’s not his pace alone that makes him so special. He is also incredibly fit, as fit as anyone at Chelsea or England. He can go on and on all day. But his greatest asset is his game awareness, the ability to anticipate what’s about to happen.
He’s already set one record. The win over Ukraine was his 21st match in a tournament for England, which puts him out there on his own. And he’s only 31, so he’s right at his peak and playing his best football ever. I’m thrilled that he’s now finally getting the recognition he so deserves as he’s a great lad. He doesn’t talk much to the media, he just gets on with his job. And 97 caps for England speaks volumes.”
Well said that man!