Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole isn’t the most popular footballer around as he is hated by Arsenal fans, loathed by all neutrals, even some non-football fans dislike him for being unfaithful to his ex Cheryl Cole, but the guy is arguably the best left-back in the world.
Fellow professional Phil Neville seems to think so as he has recently lavished praise on the Blues and England left-back as he believes Cole typifies everything the modern fullback should be.
Neville told the Liverpool Echo:
“I’ve never seen him have a game where the winger he’s against has dominated him – because he is impossible to play against.
“He’ll make a 60-yard run and as an opponent you have to follow that and you quickly find yourself back on the edge of your own area. So you then have to make another 60-yard run to get back into the attacking third where you want to be. By the time you are there, you’re no longer fresh because you’ve just run 120 yards.”
Some of Cole’s most impressive displays have been against some of the world’s best players, particularly Cristiano Ronaldo as the pair came up against each other a few times at both club and international level. The Three Lions’ man has had the better of the former Manchester United player in their individual mini battles. Sir Alex Ferguson moved Ronaldo out onto the left flank in the 2008 Champions League final to try to take advantage of an out of position Michael Essien, but avoiding Cole on the opposite flank could also have been a factor in the Manchester United boss’ thinking.
The Chelsea fullback has managed to reach such a level and continue to perform at that level despite being hated by pretty much everyone, which makes it all the more impressive. Like his club team-mate John Terry he had a lot of negative press attention surrounding him over the season following revelations about their individual misdemeanours, but it didn’t seem to affect Cole in the same way as it did Terry who was guilty of letting it get to him at times.
However, Cole was probably fortunate to be injured during the times the scandalous stories were at their height.
It wasn’t his first taste of scandal though as the former Arsenal fullback was involved in a tapping up storm prior to his eventual move to Chelsea. He was labelled Cashley Cole after famously saying he almost crashed his car when he heard the wage package Arsenal were only offering him something like £55,000-a-week.
When Cole moved to Stamford Bridge in a swap deal involving William Gallas (2006) many thought Arsenal were getting the better deal and Chelsea were just acquiring another petulant mercenary, how wrong they were.
The 29-year-old was arguably one of the better performers of England’s dire 2010 World Cup campaign (although it’s not saying much) and managed to play the left flank pretty much alone as Steven Gerrard often drifted into the middle.
Last season Cole won an historic Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea and has been linked with Real Madrid (arguably biggest club in the world) following his best season in a blue shirt. Also, his England record is quite astonishing as he has made around 80 appearances country all of when he has been names in the starting XI, he has never appeared off of the bench.
Many may argue their individual cases for the likes of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm, but love him or hate him surely Ashley Cole is the best fullback in the world and has shown it over an extended period of time?