Observer sports editor Steve Carpenter takes a look at the beneficial signing for both Cole and the Sky Blues in the long run…
IT HAS emerged in recent weeks that Joe Cole’s short-lived career with the Sky Blues looks set to come to an end in the summer, but who can begrudge the model professional one final hurrah in the sunny state of Florida?
It has been widely reported that the former England midfielder has agreed a move to North American Soccer League (NASL) side Tampa Bay Rowdies and nobody can blame Cole for wanting to take his family and football on one final adventure abroad.
Take just one look at the scenic Al Lang Stadium and you can understand why he’d want to spend the latter stages of his career out in the sun.
Sky Blues fans may not have seen Cole at his peak, but we have been treated to some moments of brilliance. His sensational performance in his preferred ‘number ten’ role in the 6-0 demolition of Bury was a joy to watch. The 34-year-old was simply unplayable that day and he was just as effective in the 5-0 romping of Crewe at the beginning of January.
Although some perhaps could have expected more from Cole, who has struggled with his fitness since joining from Aston Villa, it’s easy to forget the role he has played off the field too.
“For what he’s achieved and what he’s done in the game, he could easily come in and waltz around, but he doesn’t,” said team mate Aaron Martin in a recent interview. “He is top, top class. He shows the way to be.”
Those words speak volumes about a player who I was immediately impressed with from his first press conference in October.
He spoke passionately about simply wanting to play football, which was so refreshing when you consider the level he has played at and unlike other players he refused to simply sit on the bench at Aston Villa and take home his pay packet.
The likes of Jacob Murphy, Adam Armstrong and our own academy players including James Maddison will have dreamed about playing alongside Cole and there’s no doubting that his professionalism, experience and knowledge of the game will have rubbed off on the whole squad.
The move has also been hugely beneficial for Cole too. Instead of wasting away on the Villa bench, Cole has been able to improve his fitness and get some valuable and competitive game time under his belt.
It’s not often that us Sky Blues fans get to watch a player who has no fewer than three Premier League and FA Cup winners’ medals, two League Cup triumphs a Champions League runner’s-up medal and 56 England caps.
I think I speak for the majority of fans in wishing Cole all the very best for what looks like a new chapter in America.
Hopefully he can add a League One play-off final winners’ medal to his already hugely impressive CV and who knows, he might even be persuaded to stick around for one more season.