He played for 20 years, managed 687 appearances and lifted 19 major trophies, and former Chelsea, Arsenal and England left-back Ashley Cole has now announced his retirement from professional football.
The 38-year-old brought his final stint with Derby County to an end at the end of last season and has been without a club ever since, using his new-found free time to take his coaching badges and do some punditry on the side.
It was on media duty that he announced his decision not to return to playing, in fact, speaking on Sky Sports' Super Sunday ahead of Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace.
"After hard thinking and consideration, it's time to hang my boots up," he said. "I can look forward to my next chapter which will hopefully be coaching. I'm doing a course at the moment."
👋 Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from professional football— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) August 18, 2019
Made his debut as a sub for Ray Parlour in Arsenal’s League Cup defeat at Middlesbrough in Nov 1999. Went on to make 385 PL apps, on the winning side 240 times (62.3%) 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/iQCU0gjcXF
One of the most celebrated players of his generation, Cole won everything there is to win in club football in England, including three Premier League titles, one Champions League and seven FA Cups.
Ashley Cole the best left back of my lifetime, what an incredible career. I was devastated when he left Arsenal and we never managed to get close to replacing him properly. Most FBs are either solid defensively or a threat going forward but he really could do everything— M (@Mobealla) August 18, 2019
In my eyes, Ashley Cole was the best Full Back of the Premier League era.— Ichokas (@Ichokas) August 18, 2019
Blessed that he played for my team, absolute legend 🙏🏼
Ashley is a gunner and always will be. Gave his best years to Chelsea perhaps but he's an Invincible. End of. His beef was with David Dein who promised one thing and put something else in a contract. The same thing the media hang Don King out to dry for.— 9/6/54 - 18/5/14 (@derocka) August 18, 2019
A solid left-back both in defence and attack, some even said he was better than Roberto Carlos...*
*inclusion in this article does not necessarily indicate endorsement by 90min
Ashley Cole was a better Left back than Roberto Carlos.— izuKwacha/Madrid$$ (@kwa_cha) August 18, 2019
Asides Ororo and Ronaldinho making him sit in greener pastures, he's a GOAT LB.
Great player but not as good as Cole defensively— dean young (@deanoyoung81) August 18, 2019
To others, however, he wasn't even the best English left-back of his generation.
Excellent left back. Second best ever in Prem behind Leighton Baines.— Sid (@Sidneykidney4) August 18, 2019
Of course, we're dealing with football twitter here. You best believe there are a fair amount of Arsenal fans not in the mood to forgive or forget.
Never liked him after he acrimoniously left The Arsenal— Stuart Wilson (@stu420) August 18, 2019
Outside of England, he spent two years with Roma and three with LA Galaxy before returning home to play for Derby. Despite his achievements in this time, however, the jetsetting portion of his career will forever be remembered for that team photo.
Next Derby manager? Only time will tell.