MX23RW : Wednesday, November 21 16:46:47

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
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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