Arry still rates Cole as the best ever
Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp still rates Chelsea FC star Joe Cole as the best young player he has ever worked with and suggests the 28-year-old Stamford Bridge midfielder should definitely be in Fabio Capello’s 23-man World Cup squad. Cole has endured a difficult season under the management of Carlo Ancelotti and has been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal FC, Manchester City, Spurs and Liverpool FC, and Redknapp claims the former West Ham United prodigy still has plenty to offer club and country.
Cole is out of contract in June, and although Chelsea FC remain intent on keeping the player, the midfielder remained coy on his future yesterday, and the likes of Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini, Arsenal FC’s Arsene Wenger and Liverpool FC’s Rafa Benitez would undoubtedly jump at the chance to sign the player on a free transfer this summer. Tottenham Hotspur manager Redknapp recalls Cole at West Ham United, and although he did not comment on Spurs’ alleged interest in Cole, he believes Capello would be mad not to take him to South Africa.
The Tottenham Hotspur supremo rates the Chelsea FC star as the best young player he ever worked worth during his days at West Ham United. Redknapp had a Hammers side that contained Manchester United and England captain Rio Ferdinand and his Old Trafford colleague Michael Carrick and Chelsea FC’s Frank Lampard amongst many others, but the Spurs manager rates Cole as number one. The White Hart Lane boss suggests aside from Cole’s God-given talent, his work rate set him apart, and although he could well miss out on the FA Cup final tomorrow, Redknapp suggests the reputed United, City and Liverpool FC target should find solace at the World Cup finals.
The Tottenham Hotspur boss told the Sun: “I’VE got three words to say to all those people asking me if Joe Cole should be on the plane to South Africa – definitely, definitely, definitely.”
“I have to say I was just as pleased for Joe Cole (to see him in Capello’s provisional England squad), who has had a bit of a rough time of things this season.”
“I signed Joe for West Ham when he was only 11, and even now I still rate him as the best young player I have ever worked with.”
“He was on another planet to everyone else, and that’s not a bad compliment considering some of the great talent we then had at Upton Park, such as Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick to name but two.”
“It didn’t matter if we were playing Arsenal, Chelsea, you name it – he was usually the best player on the pitch by a distance.”
“Basically in the Under-12s, 13s and the like, if Joe was in the side, we’d win. It was as simple as that.”
“He was such a talent that he was too good to play with kids of his own age, so he was always in the teams a year ahead of himself.”
“And he was still the best then, as well.”
“The thing which really stood out – as much as his ability of course – was how he was prepared to put a shift in, even back then.”
“He’d cover every blade of grass, and was a real team player, which might sound a bit obvious, but as a kid it’s a great asset to have that kind of attitude.”
“Joe was out of this world and I remember asking him once how he learned to control a ball as well as that.”
“He told me how he’d take a tennis ball to school with him, and dribble it all the way there and back again – a real throwback to the old days.”
“But that’s just Joe – he loves football, still has the same enthusiasm he showed the first time I saw him, and simply wants to play the game.”
In addition to Cole the footballer, Redknapp paid tribute to the man himself recalling a story that illustrated the Chelsea star’s generosity.
He continued: “And through it all, he’s remained such a great lad as well. If you don’t believe me, just ask Peter Brabrook, the former England player who was one of our coaches at West Ham.”
“Peter was struggling with his knees, and when Joe asked one day how he was, replied that he was on the NHS waiting list and would have them done in five or six months.”
“The next day a cheque arrived for about £20,000, with a note telling him to get them done privately.”
“Joe didn’t do it for any publicity, and he’ll probably kill me for revealing it now, but that’s him all over.”
This season Cole has had to make do with a peripheral role at Stamford Bridge, but Redknapp believes his former player still has plenty of years at the top of the game.
Redknapp added: “At 28, I think he has five or six great years left in him and I can see him being one of THE real impact players if he goes to South Africa.”
“And I really, really hope he does make it, because he’s got everything you need when you’re looking at World Cup players.”
“He’s been there already – remember that screamer he scored against Sweden in 2006 – he’s played a lot of Champions League football, and can perform in two or three different positions.”
“Having a player with the ability to unlock the door is priceless. And even though he might struggle to make Chelsea’s starting line-up in the FA Cup final, I’m sure running out in the World Cup for England wouldn’t be a bad compensation.”