January 15, 2014

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I'm not a machine like Paolo Maldini

 

For Chelsea and England, the 29 year old is a leviathan of the modern game; a consistently superb performer whose ability to ally defensive resilience with attacking incision marks him out as the quintessential contemporary full back.

 

Cole misses tomorrow night's international against France at Wembley through injury but he joined Kenny Sansom as the most capped England full back earlier this year after his 86th outing and at club level has won three Premier League titles, six FA Cups and one League Cup medal.

 

He s Men Nike Free 3.0 V2 hould be revered as one of this country's genuine world class talents at a time when faith in the national team remains shaken from the travails in South Africa.

 

And yet in many quarters, opinion is distorted by a turbulent period off the field that culminated in divorce from wife Cheryl in September.

 

Cole turns 30 next month it is an age when players become starkly aware of their career's mortality. Injury forces him to sit out tomorrow night's friendly against France and affords him further chance for introspection.

 

"You do get a bit reflective at this stage in your career," he told Standard Sport. "There are a lot of youngsters coming through we have Josh McEachran, who is 17, and you sit with him thinking: How old are you?' You do feel your age but being on the pitch makes me feel young and enthusiastic and healthy. That's what keeps me going every day in training.

 

"It's not down to me to get people to give me recognition what can I do? All I can do is play well. What can I say? It's one of those things. It happens. I am just doing my job playing as well as I can for Chelsea and trying to win things.

 

"I try my best for England, too, and what people think is out of my hands. I can't do anything about it."

 

Cole appears resigned to suffering at the hands of supporters only too willing to judge him through distorted vision and perhaps such ire is more easily navigated when those within the game are so effusive in their praise. Despite a surprise omission from the FIFA Ballon D'Or shortlist, manager Carlo Ancelotti has found many agreeable voices to his contention that Cole is the best left back in the world.

 

Chelsea boss Ancelotti went further in comparing Cole to great AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini, not in playing style but for his professionalism, particularly in the face of such personal adversity.

 

"I don't listen to the good or the bad as long as my team mates are happy and my manager, too, and the fans seem to be happy, that's all that matters to me," he said.

 

"If I am winning trophies, then it makes it better. I just want to keep playing well for Chelsea and whatever people want to write, they will write."

 

Maldini went on to play until after his 40th birthday but Cole doubts he will follow the Italian's lead.

 

"I would love to carry on as long as I can and be somewhere close to as successful as him because he had a great career," he said.

 

"I can't see myself playing until I am 40 like Maldini. He was a machine and I am not, really. You don't get people like that too often you might see it in goalkeepers but rarely does a centre back or a left back play with the quality he did. I hope to do that.

 

"I used to look at players like Roberto Carlos and see how I could improve and be like him.

 

"Now I have developed my own style and I play how my manager wants. I just want to play my own way and do the things I know I can every week."

 

Away from the action, Cole is content "chilling at home with the X Box Call of Duty is my favourite game" and is comfortable enough to occasionally venture to Niketown with friends to "get some new gear".

 

Talk of leaving Chelsea as life in England verged on the untenable "only got as far as a conversation with the manager" and now he appears settled once more in London life and is even contemplating taking his coaching badges with the Blues.

 

"I have a contract with Chelsea so I will stay here for the remainder of that," he said. "People don't know me they just know what people write. My personality is shown on the training ground and around my friends and family. They see the real me so I am just doing my thing. I want to win, work hard, be better and improve. When I wake up in the morning, I want to go to training and that is all I want to do.

 

"One day, I will try to take my coaching badges. I would have to learn a lot to be the standard of the coaches at Chelsea. I know you don't start at Chelsea you have to go through a lot of coaching and am I good enough? I would say I don't think I nike am to be a coach.

 

"It may be something in the future I would try to learn from the people at Chelsea but I have not really thought that far ahead."

 

Ashley Cole was speaking at the official reopening of Niketown London on Oxford Street. The 49 year old, who has previously held posts in Russia, Spain and Denmark, led the Welsh side to a ninth place finish in the Premier League last season and made history by winning the club's first ever major trophy with a 5 0 win over Bradford in the League Cup final. Having been linked to Real Madrid and PSG in recent months, the former Barcelona midfielder has seen his stock rise and Levy may feel that he would be getting one of the best young managers in the game if he was to make a move for him now.".

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