Ashley Cole: the great left-back football fans love to hate
Six things you need to know to understand why not everyone’s cheering Cole’s 100th England cap
ENGLAND and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole will win his 100th cap for England tonight – becoming only the seventh player to do so and the first black player to join this elite band – when the national team take on Brazil at Wembley. He is acknowledged to be one of the best left-backs in world football and in 2010 was voted England fans’ player of the year. So why have so many football supporters ridiculed him down the years?
Six things you need to know to understand Cole’s reputation:
His record is superb: He made his debut for Arsenal in 1999 aged 18 having come through the ranks and sought to model his game on that of Brazilian Roberto Carlos. He made 228 appearances for Arsenal, winning the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times and playing in the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona. He has represented England at the last three World Cups.
He was nicknamed Cashley: Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea in the summer of 2006 after a long transfer saga and allegations that he had been "tapped up" by the Blues. He brought out an autobiography later that year that contained a now infamous passage that revealed how he almost crashed his car and was left shaking with anger when Arsenal offered to pay him only £55,000-a-week. His Chelsea deal was worth £90,000-a-week – hence the nickname.
He cheated on his wife: Ashley Cole and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy got together in 2004 and were married in 2006. But in 2008 lurid stories emerged in the tabloids that Cole had cheated on the pop singer. The couple patched things up but in 2010 they separated after four more allegations of infidelity. X-rated pictures of Cole also surfaced on the mobile phone of a topless model. He and Cheryl divorced later that year.
He dislikes the media: "If I wanted to address every single thing I see in the paper I would lose my mind," he once told an interviewer. When in 2010 he was caught driving at 104mph in a 50mph zone he said he was trying to avoid the paparazzi. He has told the BBC that although he does lots for charity he does not talk about it because he "can't win" with the media.
He once shot someone: In February 2011, Cole accidentally shot a 21-year-old student on work experience with an air rifle at Chelsea's training ground in Cobham. He had brought the rifle to the ground himself but claimed he didn't realise it was loaded and apologised to the student. He escaped prosecution but was given a severe dressing-down by Chelsea.
He fell out with Rio Ferdinand: Cole's reputation took another battering when he defended John Terry in court during the Anton Ferdinand race row. His evidence led to fellow England defender Rio Ferdinand calling Cole a 'choc-ice', a derogatory term meaning someone who is black on the outside but white on the inside. Members of Cole's family allegedly mocked Rio when he was hit by a coin at a match late last year.