The Legend of Joe Cole

In the summer of 2010, Chelsea let Joe Cole’s contract expire. Not long after Cole was signed by Liverpool in a move that many considered to be a huge pickup for the club. After a poor first season plagued with injuries, Cole was sent to Lille on loan in the hopes that he would rediscover the magic that once made him a Chelsea hero.

Joe Cole’s arrival at the Bridge in 2003 was part of the Abramovich-inspired coup that included Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Scott Parker. Joe Cole wasn’t even the biggest signing of the day for Chelsea, as they picked up Manchester United reject Juan Sebastian Veron for over twice the fee they paid for Cole.

Cole had an average first season that saw him score three goals in 50 appearances, mostly coming off of the bench. It was the following season under Mourinho that he really became a star. Duff and new signing Arjen Robben struggled with fitness issues that season, allowing Mourinho to play Cole more frequently. His trickery and skill brought back memories of recently departed Gianfranco Zola. Cole was a star on a team full of stars.

The next year Cole was able to fight off new £21m signing Shaun Wright-Phillips to keep his starting spot and helped Chelsea retain the league title. His performances earned him a spot in the PFA’s Team of the Season and a starting spot for the England’s World Cup squad in 2006. Things went downhill for Cole following the World Cup, though, after he picked up an injury in the pre-season.

Cole started only three League games that season, with new signings Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko and Salmon Kalou all competing for playing time. That season Cole managed career lows for Chelsea in both assists (0) and goals (2). Cole found a revival the following season as he started and played in the most League games for Chelsea.

Cole’s 2007/2008 season was magic in the eyes of Chelsea supporters. In a time where Chelsea were dealing with the loss of Mourinho, Cole was the light that helped inspire Chelsea to final after final. Chelsea ended up trophyless that season but Cole earned Chelsea Player of the Season. Then the injuries returned.

During the 2008/2009 season, Cole picked up seven different injuries throughout the season, ranging from concussions to cruciate ligament damage. That seemed to mark the end of his Chelsea career. Cole did come back and play the following season but he didn’t fit into the long-term plans of Carlo Ancelotti and was essentially swapped for Yossi Benayoun.

In his time at Liverpool, he has never faced Chelsea. Cole is far down in the depth chart and might not even be called upon to join the team at Stamford Bridge. At this point it seems unlikely that Cole will ever play against Chelsea and that’s great news. Joe Cole was one of my favorite players during the Mourinho-era and a real star. Seeing Cole battling against Chelsea in red just would not feel right.

Image Credit: Chelsea Daft

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