Once, he was my favourite left back. His white and read Gunners shirt suited him perfectly, whether he was throwing some occasional tantrum or whining in front of a referee. Ashley Cole is probably the best English left back since Stuart Pearce, but God, he is an irritating little arse.
Born and bred at Arsenal, of whom he was a boyhood fan, Ashley Cole debuted as a replacement for Brazilian full back Sylvinho and never looked back. He was fast, willing to learn, a decent tackler, and could occasionally whip in a missile or two. Next to him in the backline of four, Arsenal could still field Lauren, Toure and Sol Campbell, while the other primadonna, Jens Lehmann, played in goal in the role of number one flapper. At the time Arsenal were older, and damn good at playing football.
It was all doing well until, somewhere along the line, the spectre of Jose Mourinho started appearing in Ashley Cole’s dreams. Frightened by the prospect of having a Portuguese coach replacing a Czech lap dancer, or, possibly, a Liverpool FC club secretary (he’s been with one, and possibly with both) in his dreams, little Ashley suffered a few sleepless nights. Unhappy at being offered “only” a £55,000/week renewal deal at Arsenal, he quickly forgot his boyhood loyalties and, like every devout Gunner would do, secretly left to meet Mourinho in a hotel to discuss the move across London, to Stamford Bridge, home of the Chelski.
Put simply, the £55,000/week renewal is manna from heaven even for a left back, let alone if you play for Arsenal (I would imagine Gael Clichy needs a part time to pay off the bills). But Coley, smelling the opportunity of winning more trophies and get paid practically double just for tending the left flank and take the occasional throw in, was quick to pack his bags. Only thing was, Wenger wasn’t letting him go just like that. After reporting both Cole and Mourinho (and as a result, Chelsea) to the FA for what famously became known as the “tapping up” affair, Wenger reportedly held out of a £25m fee. He got £5m and William Gallas, who was mutinously threatening to score an own goal against Chelsea unless they let him go. Looking at the deal today, you’d wonder if Wenger was on some strange mushroom when he signed.
Cole’s move to Chelsea was well advised, cancelling out memories of Mourinho’s errant acquisition of Asier del Horno. But off the pitch, his fame was rising for the wrong reasons. Suffice to say marriage to ex-Girls Aloud star Cheryl Tweedy (who still goes round with the Cole surname) is now dissolved after repeated episodes of truancy (one of the girls he’d been with is reportedly a Liverpool secretary). In between injuries, his antics on the pitch continued.
He has a habit of whining, this kid. Once after a nasty high footed challenge on Alan Hutton where he got away with just a booking, he gave his back to the referee, walking away snarling like a bloodthirsty Romanian pitbull.
A large part of why he deserves to sit in this special table is his autobiography which he wrote at the age of 25 (Chelsea needed some marketing it seems). I should be writing my memoirs right now. Nonetheless, while I doubt he could actually write, there’s excerpts from the book you should really read:
About leaving Arsenal:
“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan. “I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?”
When I heard Jonathan (Barnett) repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. I suppose it all started to fall apart for me from then on. I’d trusted Mr Dein to push the deal through.”
That’s £5k you’re talking about, Ash. Throughout the book there are references about his supposed loyalty to Arsenal and the “club he loved.” But, believe me, you love a club you don’t go asking for that money and leave because of five grand.
Cheryl on the cake, oh sorry, cherry on the cake, the famous Pizzagate incident:
“This slice of pizza came flying over my head and hit Fergie straight in the mush… All I’ll say is that the culprit wasn’t English or French, so that should narrow it down…
All eyes turned and all mouths gawped to see this pizza slip off that famous puce face and roll down his nice black suit.
I thought Ferguson was going to explode but then he stormed off into the dressing room cursing and grunting, brushing the crumbs and stains off his collar.
We all went back into the dressing room and fell about laughing…”
In the world of football professionals, Ashley Cole is the mercenary with a fast pace and a tongue that outruns him practically everywhere. To him goes the second award of Petulant Twats in Football. That’s another throw for Chelsea, John.
written for footballxs.com