Ashley Cole was an Arsenal fan, living the dream

07 September 2010 06:53
I was lucky enough to play with Kenny Sansom and Ashley Cole - two of England's greatest left backs.

Kenny was the best defender I'd been alongside in a one-on-one situation but he was nowhere near as consistent as Cole and not quite as willing to get up and down the wing.

Contrary to what many people think, I found Ashley very likeable and willing to learn when he came on the scene at Arsenal. He had a great deal of respect for senior players because he was an Arsenal fan living the dream just training with us.

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He was impressive in training but we only really stood up and took notice - including Arsene Wenger - when he made his first-team debut.

There are some players who look brilliant in training and don't really perform in a game and then there are others who don't seem special in training and save their best performances for when it matters. Ashley was the latter.

I remember playing alongside him against Newcastle for his first Premier League game in 2000 and what sticks in the mind is that you didn't need to worry about him - he was so comfortable in that environment. He played with freedom and boundless energy, getting back and forward all day long.

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What was odd was that he was left out of the squad for a while after that. I remember him coming to me and asking advice on what to do - he didn't want to cause trouble but felt he had done well and deserved to be in the team.

I agreed and told him to speak to Wenger, who I think appreciated his confidence. From then on, he never really looked back.

He wasn't perfect, though, and needed to do a bit of work defensively. But we all helped him and the English players subconsciously wanted him to do well - because he was English and that was rare at Arsenal.

I remember telling him to mark Michael Owen at corners in the 2001 FA Cup final. A ball came over, he hesitated and Owen scored. We just stared at each other but afterwards I told him that could never happen again and he learned.

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Source: Daily_Mail