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Ashley Cole was an Arsenal fan, living the dream

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07 Sep 2010 06:53:27

Ashley Cole was an Arsenal fan, living the dream

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. Wise influence: Keown guided Coleduring his formative years at Arsenal 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. Mr Consistent: Cole's all-round talents separate him from other defenders Keown has played with 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.  Martin Samuel: No one likes Ashley Cole, but you have to admit: He's goodCHARLES SALE: Wayne Rooney too busy to worry, says Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie It started with the Swiss... Fabio Capello's England debut against Switzerland... and how things have changed sinceArsenal's Jack Wilshere back in England Under 21 fold for key clash with Lithuania


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