sportingeye

Ashely Cole Declares Himself “Not Infallible”

In Football on July 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

If ever there was any proof that the modern day footballer is divorced from reality it has to be Ashley Cole. The reputation he has acquired for himself has completely offset any positive praise he would ordinarily receive for being the best left-back of his generation. Instead he finds himself universally despised, reviled by the club that made him, booed by the fans of the country he represents and treated like an unwanted stepchild by supporters of the club he currently plays for.

Yet despite this being entirely his own doing, Cole recently sat down with the BBC for an interview where he revealed that he was at a loss to explain it all. “”I’ve made mistakes and have just got to live with it” he said, as if he was some kind of victim in all of his past transgressions. Of course the interview itself was motivated completely from a point of self interest – Only a few days prior to it the new Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, had said he wanted his players to be role models.

Knowing he might not be seen as a sympathetic character he diverted attention to how much the stories were hurting his mother. “What parent wouldn’t [find reading them difficult]” he lamented, without ever making the connection in his mind that as he was the person causing the stories in the first place perhaps he should shoulder some of the blame for it all.

What exactly is the fuss about? Well, with Cole it’s difficult to know where to begin. So many almost certainly true stories can’t even be printed but anyone who has stood on the terraces and listened to the chants could probably fill in some of the details. Still, if we only want to operate in the realms of proven fact – wise to do in this age of super injunctions – then here’s what we do know. He was a player who betrayed the club that had nurtured his talent and given him a platform to play his way into the England squad when he held secret talks with Chelsea while still under contract. The move was completely financially motivated and was so successful that the £100,000 he was fined for being in breach of FA regulations regarding contract was likely made up in his first few weeks at his new home.

On the pitch there are numerous examples of petulance and ill temper. The 2008 tie between Chelsea and Tottenham resulted in a horror tackle on Alan Hutton that sent the defender to the hospital. Under the advisement of his club he came out and made a public apology. The club then said this was indicative of a new, mature Cole and applauded him for doing what they had told him to.

Perhaps they were right though… Gone was the arrogant person who couldn’t understand the criticism he received from teammates when he released an autobiography aged just 25. Alternatively though he was the same old Cole. Certainly that maturity seemed lacking when he was arrested for swearing at a police officer while coming out of a nightclub the following year. Or when he was convicted of a speeding offence – doing over twice the 50 MPH speed limit – only a few months after that.

Then there was the serial infidelity to his wife Cheryl that seemed to make the tabloids every few months or so. It took a while but a very public divorce began. In a time when England footballers were having the captaincy stripped from them for simply having sexual relations with a teammates ex, Cole again seemed unaware of the significance of what it all meant in terms of his image.

Eclipsing all his previous acts of stupidity though had to be shooting a student on work experience with an air rifle. Yes, flying in the face of other footballers lending the name to anti-gun crime drives, Ashley was instead larking about with an air rifle and decided to shoot the lucky trainee in the next. Quite an experience to take away from his time at the football club.

In the interview Cole explained that it was just some sort of weird accident, a freak occurrence he was powerless to prevent:

“If someone had actually seen the incident – you wouldn’t laugh because it was a stupid thing to do – but the whole situation was crazy. Of course it was an accident.”

At least it wasn’t malicious then, which is perhaps something that had been lost in the clamour to smear Cole’s good name – had anyone actually asked if he had deliberately shot the individual, who needed medical attention after the incident? Well, sure a few did. Many didn’t think to. The presumption was it had to be an accident but still one caused by negligence and stupidity. Cole doesn’t feel he has to defend these, only intent. This is a huge part of the psyche that makes him disliked by even those with memories that only go back as far as his last appearance in the red tops.

“…at the end of the day I just want to play football, I’m here to play football. I just wish people would judge me more on football and speak about football more than a life that people don’t really know.”

He added this heartfelt plea before going on to talk about the restaurant he was launching with Jay-Z, one that would provide jobs for underprivileged kids and certainly give Cole some positive press this time around.

Oh yes, Cole is all about the football and he on occasion makes a mistake or two. What’s the problem?

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