England's World Cup squad is slated to be announced Monday at 2 p.m. local time, but one major bombshell concerning the squad is already out in the open.
Ashley Cole, the veteran left back with 107 caps to his name, took to Twitter to announce that he has been omitted by manager Roy Hodgson and has retired from international play. Cole fell out of favor at Chelsea this season, playing less than half of the club's league games and starting just 15 times in league play under Jose Mourinho. He was part of England's 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup rosters.
I got the call from Roy and agree England team should be about the young players. I think it best I retire from England team now.— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 11, 2014
We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything— Ashley Cole (@TheRealAC3) May 11, 2014
Cole's absence likely leaves England's left back spot to Everton's Leighton Baines and Southampton's 18-year-old rising star Luke Shaw and continues the changing of the guard across the Three Lions back line, with Cole joining Rio Ferdinand and John Terry as past England stalwarts no longer in the picture.
Hodgson responded to Cole's public announcement by confirming and explaining his decision to The FA's official website, saying:
"Among many difficult decisions I've had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest. He's been an incredible competitor for England, to amass over a century of caps is a truly staggering achievement and he deserves enormous credit for the desire and brilliance which has shone through over the years he has represented his country.
"There are few players who can be considered among the very best in the world, but Ashley in his prime was the best left back without question. The most important factor was speaking to Ashley prior to the announcement on Monday, he deserved to hear it directly from me and he took the news with huge grace.
"In two years working with him he has shown nothing but relentless professionalism, and a great hunger to play for England. He is someone I have the utmost respect for and I wished him all the best, he in turn wished the team well this summer.
"Of course I must respect his decision to retire, he has been one of England's finest players, but I want to look to the future. It has been one of the hardest decisions of my career."