At 20 years of age, Ashely Cole became Arsenal’s first choice left-back.
At 21, he played for England at a World Cup having won the double as an Arsenal player. Two years later and he completed a season unbeaten with the Gunners. He was one of the greatest Arsenal defenders of all time, but will never be remembered fondly by the masses.
You see, in 2006 he left north London to join Chelsea. Cole went on to become one of the best full-backs ever, if we’re being completely honest, but it could have been so different.
“If Arsenal hadn’t gone back on their word, Ashley would have stayed 100% and that would never have happened,” Cole’s agent, Jonathan Barnes, has admitted.
“I’m not justifying it, but explaining it.”
The story goes that Barnes was informally promised a contract offer in preliminary discussions, but when Cole arrived to put pen to paper the Gunners were offering £5,000 a week less than had been agreed.
With Chelsea, Cole won the Premier League one more time as well as four FA Cups and the Champions League. From his success in the 2005 FA Cup final with Arsenal to the time Cole was lifting the famous European trophy in 2013, the Gunners won nothing.
“It was probably the best thing that ever happened to Ashley Cole,” Barnes added.
“Arsenal won nothing, he won everything and financially he was much better off. My job as an agent was done.”
Perhaps, but it’s a great shame. As a boy he was an Arsenal fan, and he was one of our best ever defenders. As a left-back, only Eddie Hapgood can claim to have been as good. for Arsenal.
Time heals all wounds they say, and maybe Arsenal fans will appreciate the brilliance of the player as the years go by. Maybe Cole himself does even regret leaving on some level. And maybe his agent should shut up.