Prodigy. Genius. Magical. There was an endless list of superlatives used to describe Joe Cole as he rose like a phoenix through the ranks at West Ham’s academy during the 1990s. The future of English football. His emergence would signal a new breed of player in the birthplace of the game. Technique, skill and imagination would come to the fore, with the strength, discipline and desire so implanted in the psyche of the English game taking a back-seat. Such was Cole’s natural ability; future teams would be constructed to suit his strengths. However now aged 28, supposedly when a player is at his peak, Chelsea are stalling on offering Cole a new deal. His World Cup place is under severe threat. How has it come to this?
“There was no malicious intent from Ryan; he’s not that kind of player.”
Danny Pugh, Stoke City midfielder, 27th February 2010.
“He’s a committed player, but he’s never going to go into a challenge looking to hurt someone.”
Rory Delap, Stoke City midfielder, 27th February 2010.
“Martin’s not a dirty player. He’s distraught over Eduardo’s injury.”
Alex McLeish, Birmingham City manager, 23rd February 2008.
“In my opinion, I felt Dan Smith did go for the ball and the lad knocked it away and he accidentally caught him.”
Kevin Ball, Sunderland caretaker manager, 1st May 2006
Almost two years to the day that Eduardo suffered a horrific broken leg after a challenge by Birmingham’s Martin Taylor, Aaron Ramsey was to suffer a similar fate at the hands of Ryan Shawcross at the Britannia Stadium last night. In May 2006, 19-year-old Abou Diaby had his ankle broken when a Dan Smith lunge cost him eight months of his career and a possible Champions League final appearance. Does anyone see a bit of a pattern forming here?