The Chelsea left-back will join an elite list of players to have played 100 games for England should he, as expected, play in the game and the plaudits have come raining in over the last couple of days. Even former England left-back Stuart Pearce has named Cole as‘’the best left-back that’s ever played for England.’’
It has been a relatively short journey considering the magnitude of the achievement; Cole made his debut for England in 2001 against Albania under the guise of Sven Goran Eriksson. Despite competition over the years from the likes of Wayne Bridge and Everton’s dynamic Leighton Baines Cole has remained the undisputed number one choice for over a decade; and during that time you would be hard pressed to find a player who has been more committed and played more consistently for his country than the left-back.
Yet is there still a danger his 100th cap could be soured?
In the past Ashley Cole has had to put up with boos from his own fans due to the more controversial leanings of his character including his apparent shock at ‘only’ being offered £55k-a-week by Arsenal (which to be fair if I was the best left back in the world at the time would also have shirked at) and his extra marital affairs whilst national treasure Cheryl Tweedy was his proverbial ball-and-chain (I somehow feel that in hindsight some of my own and much of the publics hatred of Cole may descend from jealousy).
But on the pitch Cole has never given anything less than 100% for his country and come Wednesday he would have done so 100 times and that deserves fans respect. Steven Gerrard has also called on England fans to show the respect Cole deserves:
‘’It's going to be Ashley's night if he's picked and the players are certainly going to show him a hell of a lot of support. Let's hope the fans do as well. He deserves to be a 100-cap player, there's no two ways about that. I think there have been years when he has been the best left-back in the world and we've been lucky to have him. I think the supporters realise that as well."
I like to think we England fans boo Cole more as a pantomime villain and that in all seriousness we truly appreciate what an exceptional player he has been for club and country in his illustrious career. I will be at Wembley on Wednesday night and I admit to not being Cole’s biggest fan but I can guarantee you one thing; the only gesture I will make when Cole gains control of the ball is nodding my head and clapping my hands in appreciation… and probably scowling at inevitable boo-boys.
Does Cole deserve to be booed on his big night?
image: © p_a_h