Former Chelsea & West Ham star Joe Cole has announced his retirement from professional football, describing his career as a “dream come true.”
The midfielder is best known for his time with the Irons and the Blues, but he also donned the shirts of Liverpool, Aston Villa and Coventry City throughout his time on the pitch.
Since May 2016, Cole has been part of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but now he feels is the right time to close the chapter on his professional career.
Like most footballers, the midfielder’s spell at an elite level dwindled during the latter stages of his career, but he has an impressive CV having won four Premier League titles with Chelsea.
Cole also scooped two FA Cups and was runner-up in the 2007-08 Champions League final with the Blues. The 37-year-old began his career at West Ham and eventually left in 2003 before returning to the East London outfit 10 years later for one season.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Cole expressed gratitude towards all of the coaches and players that shaped his career along the way.
“After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. 716 professional games, 104 goals, for seven great clubs – West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille, Aston Villa, Coventry City and the Tampa Bay Rowdies – as well the honour of playing for England. It has been a dream come true. All of it.
“There are key moments in every professional’s career. One of mine came when I was a young West Ham player. A senior pro, who was nearing his own retirement, said to me: ‘Enjoy every game, young man. It goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it badly after it’s gone.’ He was right. Those words resonate even more now than they did back then. I tried to play and live by his advice every single day because being a professional footballer is an absolute honour.
“Countless people have helped me through my career. I don’t want to single anyone out individually for fear of overlooking someone else! Simply, to the managers, coaches, back room staff and everyone who has helped me along the way: thank you.”
It appears that Cole is now aiming to follow the lead of his peers, including his former Chelsea and Liverpool teammates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, by going into coaching.
“Looking to the future, I want to stay involved in the game. I feel I can offer a lot as a coach and have really enjoyed the opportunity to undertake some of these duties with the Rowdies. To lend my experience to help other young footballers achieve their dreams, just like I did, is a big passion of mine.
“Whatever is next, I hope the next two decades are as special as my last 20 years as a professional have been. Again, a huge thanks to everyone who helped me along that path.”