Former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole believes that English players are afraid to move abroad and should be prepared to step out of their comfort zone.
Cole signed a three-year deal with Italian side Roma earlier this month following his departure from Chelsea, and, speaking at his first press conference, said that he jumped at the chance to continue his career overseas.
‘English players are probably afraid to come abroad, they're in a comfort zone in England,’ he said. ‘It's a big opportunity for me to try a different language, culture and way of living. I'm happy with my choice'.
‘As soon as I spoke to Rudi Garcia and I saw how much they wanted me here at Roma I jumped at the chance,’ he added. ‘I’ve had some great managers in my time and I'm sure I'll work with another one here at Roma.’
Cole is one of just a few established English players who have made the move abroad from the Premier League, following in the footsteps of the likes of Steve McManaman, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate, all who joined Real Madrid.
Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe signed for MLS side Toronto FC in January this year, while ex-Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne has been playing for Bundesliga side Hamburg since 2011.
Having retired from international football this summer after being left out of England’s 23-man World Cup squad, Cole’s sentiment resembles that of manager Roy Hodgson, who claimed following the side’s group stage exit that his team would benefit from more of their players moving to foreign leagues.
The 107-time capped left-back is now set to become the 23rd Englishman to feature in Serie A in the league’s history, the last being Beckham, after the then-LA Galaxy midfielder’s loan spell at AC Milan in 2010.
Italy had previously seen the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Trevor Francis, Ray Wilkins, David Platt and Paul Gascoigne arrive in yesteryears, but the former England captain and Jay Bothroyd with Perugia in 2003 are the only two to do so over the past decade-and-a-half.
His deal worth a reported £38,000 per week, with the option to be extended into a further season, Cole will be hoping that he can help Roma better 2013-14’s second-place finish and, in the process, emulate some of the past Serie A successes.