The return of Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole on Saturday is not only positive news for his club boss Carlo Ancelotti, but will also please England manager Fabio Capello ahead of the 2010 World Cup. The former West Ham midfielder was his exuberant self as he played with enthusiasm and flair to help Chelsea to a 5-0 Premier League win over Blackburn. Perhaps more important than the result was the refreshing sight of seeing a player who truly loves playing football and restores your faith in the English game.
Cole was making his first league start since January due to a serious cruciate knee ligament injury and the standing ovation that the Chelsea fans gave him when he was substituted in the second half was richly deserved. His work-rate was outstanding and he showed glimpses of his trickery and vision which will be vital for Chelsea in their push for the title. Ancelotti gave Cole a big hug when he was substituted and went so far as to call him a “genius” and I’m sure that Capello will be delighted with the prospect of having a fit and hungry Joe Cole in his squad.
Cole shows an enthusiasm which is infectious and you cannot help but admire his attitude towards football. I challenge anyone not to have had a smile on their face when he returned on Saturday, whether they are a Chelsea fan or not. He just loves playing football and the Premier League would certainly be a better place if there were more players like him. In the long run his injury could even improve his game as he has admitted that now every day he goes into training is a blessing. After the game he said “I genuinely love playing the game. It was brilliant just to be out there again.” Cole will now be hoping to get a run of games under his belt and force his way back into the international fold.
The 27 year old certainly offers England something different and has the special ability of being able make something happen in big games. Whether it’s a little piece of skill or a through ball, he has the trickery to open up defences at all levels. And with Ancelotti employing him in an unfamiliar central role behind the strikers, it shows that he has the talent and the versatility to play right across the midfield. Cole also has a very respectable scoring record at an international level, scoring his 10 goals at a rate of almost 1 in every 5 games. Who could forget his screamer for England against Sweden in the 2006 World Cup:
The quality of Cole’s display after such a long lay-off was pleasing to see and he is only likely to get sharper as the season progresses. English football should definitely cherish wholehearted players like Cole who combine effort, skill and passion for football. And who would bet against him being a very important player for England in the World Cup next summer?
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