Blog: Ashley Cole deserves England’s support

Arsenal legend Kenny Sansom has called for England fans to give Ashley Cole a rousing cheer when the 29-year-old wins his 86th cap this evening.

His selection ensures that Cole equals Sanson’s 22-year-standing record as England’s most capped full-back, but the former Arsenal defender has not been a popular player for several years now – largely stemming from the much-publicised personal issues the player faced, notably the breakdown of his marriage to X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole.

Despite his standing as the man who many fans love to hate, Cole appears to have a fan in Sanson, who remains enthusiastic that his long-standing record looks likely to be broken before too long. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Sanson was quoted as saying: “Arsenal fans will probably boo Ashley until the day he retires, but deep down they know the score – he’s the best left-back they’ve ever had. I hope, when the England team is announced before kick-off against Montenegro, that Ashley Cole’s name is cheered to the rafters. To play for his country as often as he has, and to such a high standard, is a fantastic achievement.”

Too right it is! Sanson is a man who knows what he is talking about, and he knows that Ashley Cole remains one of the Three Lion’s best players despite the public’s perception. Martin Keown wrote in his column recently that he is pleased Cole has been as successful as he has been – and, as a player, that success is truly deserved.

This writer can only comment on the player as a player, and in that respect I cannot think of many better left-backs. Sure, throughout history some names come to mind as being comparable – Lahm, Maldini, Camacho and Irwin for example – but whether “better” is a word that can be easily used about anyone when pitted against Cole is another matter.

His move to Chelsea from Arsenal four years ago has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Gunners – and understandably so – but as an England fan I have to admit that if he can put in the kind of performance in the white shirt a few times per year as he does week in, week out in the blue, then one day his name surely will be cheered rather than jeered on the terraces – it’s only right. Let’s get this record-levelling night finished off with a win boys!

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