MX23RW : Sunday, March 24 16:02:55

On this day: Ashley Cole was born

Back on this day in 1980, England defender Ashley Cole was born in Stepney, London.

At the moment, England seem to be flush with left-backs ready to fight for a place in Roy Hodgson's first XI. That was not always the case, but luckily for the national team, Ashley Cole was on the scene from 2001 to 2014.

The now 34-year-old played in three World Cups, two European Championships and retired having gained 107 caps – making him England's most-capped full-back of all time.

At club level, the defender has represented Arsenal, Chelsea and now Roma – winning three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and one Champions League.

But where did it all begin for the Englishman? Well, it was on this day in 1980 that one Ashley Cole was born in Stepney, London.

Ashley Cole in action for Arsenal on September 09, 2000.© Getty Images

Ashley and his younger brother Matthew were raised by their mother Sue Cole and attended Bow School in Tower Hamlets. Somewhat surprisingly, Cole did not join his first professional club – Arsenal – until the age of 17. It did not take long for the left-back to make his mark, however, with the Gunners handing Cole a first-team debut at the age of just 18.

In 2000, Cole signed his first professional contract with Arsenal and made his Premier League debut in the same year. In total, he made 228 appearances for the London club – winning seven major trophies in the process.

Once a hero with the Arsenal fans, Cole infuriated supporters when he claimed that he had been left "trembling with anger" when the Gunners only offered a new deal worth £55,000 a week. That contract was bettered by Chelsea and the player moved across London in 2006.

Given the number three shirt at Chelsea, Cole quickly became the club's first-choice left-back – a position that he held for the best part of eight years. More trophies were to follow at Stamford Bridge, with another Premier League title, four FA Cups, the League Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League all arriving during his time with the Blues.

Chelsea's Ashley Cole in action during a friendly match against Indonesia All-Stars on July 25, 2013© Getty Images

Recognised by his peers, Cole was named in the PFA Team of the Year on four occasions and won Chelsea's Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2011. During the 2013-14 season, however, Cole found first-team opportunities hard to come by at Chelsea, with Cesar Azpilicueta handed Cole's regular spot.

A disappointing season at club level meant that Cole was not taken to the 2014 World Cup – despite strong calls – while the expiring of his Chelsea deal saw the defender seek pastures new at Roma, signing a two-year deal with the club.

The legs might not move as quick as they used to, but Cole's ability to still perform at the highest level is not one that can be questioned. On the football field, he commands respect, but off-the-field matters have slightly tainted his reputation with the wider audience.

A fairly public divorce and minor brushes with the police have led to difficulties in Cole's personal life, but the defender was never anything short of consistent on the field, where everything seemed to make sense.

There is no question that the full-back is in the latter stages of his career, but he has left a positive impression on the game. When the dust settles and everything is said and done, Cole can look back on a trophy-laden and highly-successful career.

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Neil Warnock, manager of Crystal Palace looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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