One to Watch - Joe Cole
Name: Joe Cole
Date of Birth: 8/11/1981
Former Clubs: West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille
League Appearances (Goals): 368 (45)
International Appearances (Goals): 56 (10)
Stat of the Day: Joe Cole started 36 of West Ham`s 38 Premier League games in his last season there (2002/2003)
Player Profile: How apt it would have been had QPR signed Joe Cole; both engulfed in a great deal of hype, ambition and promise, yet ultimately winding up as huge disappointments, costing people a lot of money along the way. The list of promising footballers who have failed to live up to their early exposure is endless (only earlier this week did we see pictures of a heavy looking Michael Johnson slapped across the internet), and so it would be slightly unfair to label Joe Cole a complete flop. We failed to witness Cole develop into the world class star he was touted to be but with stays at Chelsea, Liverpool and Lille, along with 56 England Caps and numerous league titles, it is far to say Joe Cole has had a successful career. It is unfortunate that a player who was once the subject of a £10 million bid from Man Utd at the age of 16 and who once scored seven times in an England youth international against Spain, was never quite understood or fully accommodated.
A player with such flair and flamboyance has to be appreciated for who he is, and should the attacking midfielder have been born elsewhere, in Spain, Germany or France for example, or found a manager who trusted him solely, he may well have been treasured as the central figure he was born to be. Only as a youngster was he given the role to excite and entertain, yet as his career has progressed, the likes of Mourinho and more recently Rodgers were been unable to manage Cole`s over-elaborate style. Cole has long coveted that central playmaking role but as Sam Allardyce rarely indulges creative players, unfortunately the 31-year-old will have to slot into the team rather than have it constructed round him, yet again. Returning to West Ham may provide Cole`s career with a renaissance, or at least a pleasing swansong, but the now experienced midfielder will provide another valuable dimension and creative look to his new West Ham side.
Joe Cole was a product of the West Ham United youth system, with his talents widely reported from an early age. He was likened to Paul Gascoigne, trained with the first team at the age of 15 and was even dubbed the Cockney Pele. Cole made his first team debut in 1999 at the age of 17 in an FA Cup third round tie against Swansea City. He soon was an integral part of Glen Roeder`s side, becoming captain at the age of 21 and winning the 'Hammer of the Year` award in 2003.
He joined the first wave of Roman Abramovich`s Chelsea revolution in 2003 for a fee of £6.6 million after he rejected a new contract at West Ham, having made 126 league appearances for The Hammers. Cole took advantage of injuries to wingers Damien Duff and Arjen Robben to become a regular member of Chelsea`s Premier League title winning team in 2004/2005. He went on to win three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Community Shield`s during his time at Chelsea. He unfortunately suffered a cruciate ligament injury at the beginning of 2009. Performances were limited from then and after making 184 league appearances and scoring 28 goals his contract eventually expired at Stamford Bridge in 2010.
It was Liverpool who moved to sign the attacking midfielder as he signed a four-year deal at Anfield in July 2010. His league debut lasted just 45 minutes as he was sent off for a challenge on Arsenal`s Laurent Koscielny. He went on to only start nine league games for Liverpool, completing 90 minutes in only three of them. Earning a reported £92 000 a week, this was a piece of business that would better be suited to Loftus Road.
Last season Cole moved to French side Lille on a season long loan. He put in a string of impressive performances early on in the season, however his form soon plateaud and he eventually found himself out of the side. Brendan Rodgers stated he wanted Cole to play a part in his squad for the 2012/2013 season, however Cole failed to impress his new manager, as West Ham moved to snap up their former young prodigy ten years after he originally left the club.
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