Ashley Cole is set to earn his 100th international cap for England tonight with a tough fixture against a rampant Brazilian side. Cole will join and illustrious and historic list of England internationals as he once again puts on the shirt. England host Brazil tonight in celebration of the FA's 150th anniversary.
Sir Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and most recently Steven Gerrard all earned themselves 100 international caps, and Ashley Cole will be the newest member to join the prestigious group.
Though the 32-year-old will feature in the starting XI at Wembley, Hodgson noted that he will not take the captain's armband from Steven Gerrard for the game.
England boss Roy Hodgson said; “If you are an England fan and don't respect and love someone for what he's done, that's your problem,” before insisting that supporters should give Cole the “credit and admiration he deserves.”
Albeit a fairly controversial character, Hodgson is correct about Ashley Cole. Pundits, reporters, fans a like have all lamented Cole as the most consistent Englishman over the last 10-12 years. The majority have even labelled Ashley Cole as the greatest left back in the world throughout his career.
Is he still the best, though?
There are too many left backs in world football right now for us to compare Cole with. Marcelo, Coentrao, Alba and Philip Lahm would all certainly demand recognition when debating the world's best left back. And that's without the up and rising Alvaro Pereira, Aly Cissokho, Domenico Criscito and Filipe Luis. So for now, we'll keep it in the Premier League.
His understudy on the international level, Leighton Baines, is slowly cementing his place in the Premier League as the most 'effective' left back. The Everton defender has 5 goals to his name and has created 84 chances so far for Everton this season, in comparison to Cole’s' 1 and 15, that’s quite a feat.
When thinking of Everton, it is clear to see the predominant source of there attacking play is from the left hand side. Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar have a wonderful relationship on the field together, and with the colossal Marouane Fellaini an easy target to pick out in the opposing penalty box, it'd make sense for Baines to have a higher attacking influence in the game than Cole.
Manchester United's Patrice Evra was once highlighted as the greatest left back in the world back in 2009. The Frenchman was in the UEFA Team of The Year in 2009, and has won countless accolades at Manchester United since his arrival. However, his recent performances tend to suggest the 32 year old is on the downfall – something that can not be said about Cole.
In my personal opinion, there is no better left back currently in the Premier League than Ashley Cole. Give it a season or two and Leighton Baines may over take the Chelsea defender, but for now, as he goes to celebrate his 100th international cap – he will know there has been no-one better for Arsenal, Chelsea or England. For quite some time.