Ashley Cole has won more FA Cups than any player in history. Isn’t it time we appreciated his achievements?
Ashley Cole played for Derby County in the Championship last weekend, his first appearance in English football for almost five years. The 38-year-old, who has felt curiously rootless and unloved throughout his career, says this will be his final stop before retirement. Of the much-vaunted, and subsequently derided, golden generation, Cole was arguably the only one to live up to his billing. For several years at Arsenal and Chelsea he made a compelling case for being the world’s best left-back. While Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were all overhyped at times, Cole was under-appreciated.
There are several reasons why this might be the case, but there are clear parallels between him and Raheem Sterling. Both are outstanding black footballers, raised in London, who were branded greedy and irresponsible from a young age. Neither would claim to be entirely blameless, but the negative attention they have received from sections of the press has been wildly disproportionate.