Steven Gerrard in 2010 on Joe Cole: "[Lionel] Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can't even do with a football. I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season."
The captain's words have become infamous, highlighted by Cole's dismal record since joining Liverpool. He started off with a red card, then a missed penalty, and then when Kenny Dalglish arrived Cole spent most of his time getting acquainted with the substitute's bench.
Dalgish then made it clear he wasn't wanted last season, and Cole took the opportunity to join Lille, where in truth he was good without ever being outstanding. Simply playing top flight football rather than being in Liverpool's reserves was a success for him and he says he has returned a better player.
With King Kenny gone and Rodgers in, Cole began effusively praising the new manager in the manner of a teacher's pet, hoping to earn a starting spot in the new manager's plans.
Perhaps he had one, or was in line for one, but his progress has been waylaid by injury sustained against Gomel in the Europa League qualifiers.
Over the recent fortnight he has become a forgotten man, as a youthful Liverpool side have won three of their last four, scoring five times in both of those.
Rodgers has been giving game time to Suso, Pacheco, Assaidi, Wisdom, and even 16-year-old Jerome Sinclair, their youngest ever player. Does a 30-year-old Joe Cole still have a role?
While he may not be the most popular man at Anfield, the answer the that question is yes. A short-term role perhaps, but he can be effective. Asking players like Suso to perform for 40 games in a season is not ideal, and Cole's presence will help Rodgers's squad share the load.
Even last year at Lille Cole was second fiddle to young Eden Hazard, but flitted in and out of the side effectively appearing 42 times, even if he may not have been described as a first choice starter due to the number of substitute roles he played.
Cole netted in his comeback match for Liverpool's 'under-21' side yesterday against Fulham, a 3-0 win which saw him play just over an hour. He is reported to be in contention to feature at home to Udinese in the Europa League on Thursday.
While there will legitimately be concerns over whether Cole can ever become the enigmatic player he once was; Liverpool still don't know what they have on their hands, even if they certainly do know he is no Messi, there are also worries over whether he will hold back their promising youngsters.
The former is a worry, but the latter need not be. Cole as mentioned can take the pressure off them, and his experience will be vital if the club are to progress into the latter rounds of the Europa League.
Cole has plenty of motivation after being written off in his first season at Anfield, and will be finally looking forward to getting a run of games together. Even if his long-term future does not lie at the club, he could effectively be playing for his future elsewhere and trying to convince potential suitors than he still has what it takes.
Who knows, he could be one of the surprises of the season. He will feel he is at least owed a chance, and now fit again, his attempt to rebuild his reputation starts here.
Does Joe Cole have a future at Liverpool? What do you think?
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