The skilful midfielder was tipped as one of the best young players of his generation when he broke into the Hammers team at the back end of the 20th century.
His impressive performances would go on to earn him a £6.6m move to Chelsea, where he won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups, and 56 caps for England including appearances at four major tournaments.
Since he left Stamford Bridge in 2010, underwhelming spells at Liverpool, French side Lille and a second at West Ham have led to accusations that 32-year-old Cole has not made the most of his talents, but he feels that he has fulfilled his potential, while stressing that he is not finished with the game yet.
"It's perception in football and there was a lot of pressure put on me as a youngster but I think I've achieved what I'm capable of achieving," he told Sky Sports News.
"People will tell you I'm a good professional, I work hard. If you look at the curves on my career, it was going up, up and up and then I got my injury. That has taken a little bit out of my game. A lot of it in football is people's perception of what you could have done, what you should have done.
"To be able to play at Chelsea for such long time at a top club it's an amazing achievement. I'm happy with what I've done. I still want more. The fire still burns. I still want to play and play at the highest level I can play."
Cole has indicated that he is likely to leave West Ham in the summer to seek more regular football.