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Former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole inducted into Premier League Hall of Fame

Ashley Cole, arguably the best left-back in Premier League history, has been inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.

Ashley Cole profile


Ashley Cole

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Stepney, London



Premier League club(s)

Arsenal, Chelsea

Premier League appearances


Premier League goals


Premier League assists


Premier League titles


PFA Team of the Year



In the mid-to-late-2000s, before Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the most feared goalscorers the game has ever seen, the Portuguese was one of the most feared dribblers the game had ever seen. Capable of going inside or out, strong with both feet, Ronaldo’s dazzling foot speed, balance and agility left countless defenders reeling.

Ashley Cole was not one of them.

Ronaldo has cited Cole as his toughest opponent, saying ‘he does not give you a second to breathe’, and if you ever watched the pair face off, you’d see there’s no hyperbole on Ronaldo’s part. In Euro 2004, Cole pocketed Ronaldo in one of the Three Lions’ greatest modern-day individual displays. Far from just having electric pace, Cole had superb timing in the tackle and positional awareness making him a nightmare to navigate.

Cole made defending against Ronaldo look effortless. But Cole made defending against most wingers look effortless.

Always in outstanding physical shape, Cole could run for days, able to offer support in attack whilst never shirking his primary defensive duties, making him the complete full-back.

Cole’s career was not without controversy, however.

A 21-year-old Cole had established himself as the best left-back in the Premier League with Arsenal, going on to become an indispensable member of the England squad.

But in 2006, he’d make one of the Premier League’s most infamous moves. Cole had released an autobiography at the age of 25 – a move that former team-mate Jens Lehmann derided – in which he said that an offer of £55,000 a week from Arsenal had ‘incensed’ him. Sure enough, a switch from Arsenal to Chelsea followed.

The comments in Cole’s autobiography made him an unpopular figure up and down the country, and he did little to enamour himself to fans with a show of dissent to referee Mike Riley where Cole stood with his back turned to the referee, pointing to his name and number and urging Riley to get on with it. Cole had again made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Nevertheless, despite his standing with fans outside of SW6, it’s impossible to argue that Cole was a world-class left-back, and spent much of his career as such.

Cole was named in the PFA Team of the Year for three straight seasons with Arsenal despite the Gunners coming second to Manchester United in two of them. An injury-hit 2005/06 season saw his run come to an end with the move to Chelsea following.

Coming up against arguably Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest Manchester United team, Cole had to wait four years before winning a third Premier League title, and his fourth and final appearance in the PFA Team of the Year came the season after.

All things considered, it’s surprising that Cole won more titles with Arsenal than Chelsea, considering he spent two more years in West London, but Cole was a victim of timing, never really part of the great Chelsea teams. He arrived at Stamford Bridge when Jose Mourinho had entered his maligned third season, running into a legendary Manchester United team. The Blues recovered under Carlo Ancelotti to win the 2010 Premier League, but when Ancelotti was harshly dismissed after just two seasons, Cole would work under Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafael Benitez and Mourinho for one final season in a period of great under-achievement for Chelsea.

Although Cole wasn’t part of the iconic Chelsea sides of 2004-2006 or the Eden Hazard sides that won two titles in three years, Cole did win four FA Cups with Chelsea, as well as making a Champions League final in 2008, going on to win the competition in 2012.

And despite playing in sides with Frank Lampard, John Terry, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Michael Ballack, Cole managed to twice win Chelsea Players’ Player of the Season.

While he won few friends throughout his career with his conduct on and off the field, the abiding memory of Cole in retirement is that of one of the best left-backs the game has seen, and most certainly a Premier League great.

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