Few players show the consistency needed to perform to a very high level in international football over a long period. Ashley Cole has had his ups and downs but he’s about to secure his 100th cap for England and is still rated as arguably the best left back in the world.
Here are five of his best performances for the three lions.
Germany 1-5 England, World Cup Qualifier 2001
Sven-Goren Erikkson was criticised by some for starting Cole at left back in a crucial World Cup qualifying match away in Germany. It will always be remembered as one of the great England wins and Cole cemented his reputation as a solid left back, retaining his shape throughout the match and ensuring there was no threat down the right from the Germans.
Argentina, World Cup Group Stage 2002
England won this match thanks to a penalty from David Beckham. It was one of Cole’s best performances for his country because for large parts of the match he was greatly exposed as he had no real cover in front of him. However, defensively he stayed disciplined and sensible which made it hard for one of England’s old enemies to break through.
France, Euro 2004
This match will always be remembered for the brace scored by Zinedine Zidane in the closing minutes which turned and England win into defeat. Take nothing away from Cole who had to defend the left back slot against various French players, including Zidane himself. No real threat came from that side of the pitch and two pieces of poor discipline are what cost England the game.
Portugal, Euro 2004
Bear in mind Cole was confronted by Cristiano Ronaldo at a time the Portuguese winger was rapidly developing as one of the best youngsters in the game. Ronaldo really struggled to have any impact against Cole, routinely switching wings to try and get into the game but with no real effect.
Portugal, World Cup 2006
Bear in mind this time that Ronaldo had turned himself into one of the best players in the world, better than the winger who appeared against Cole two years earlier. It was very much more of the same with Ronaldo hitting the deck and throwing his hands up in the air every time he tried to get past Cole and every time he got tackled.
What do you think is Cole’s best performance in an England shirt?
image: © p_a_h