Former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole has cited the English press as one of the main reasons for his move to Italy, after opting to sign a two-year deal with Serie A’s Roma.
Cole had left Chelsea after his contract expired at the end of the last season and, despite being offered a new deal with the Blues, chose to explore new opportunities abroad.
Often portrayed in a poor light by the tabloids, the 33-year-old said that the criticism of his personal life became tough to deal with over time and admits that it factored into his decision to spurn a Premier League return.
‘Of course in England’s it’s kind of hard with the press. It’s different to here. This is another one of the reasons why I’ve come here, to get away from that,’ he told asroma.it.
‘It was kind of jarring in the end. Everyone thought of me as a money-grabber, cheat and not a nice guy overall, which is totally the opposite of what I am.
‘Of course I’ve made mistakes, like everyone else, but I’m kind of shy and try to keep myself to myself most of the time,’ he added.
‘I always just say I’m not the guy that people think, personally. If you ask my friends or my family, they all know me as a kind, caring and considerate guy.’
Cole, who started just 15 Premier League games last campaign, spent eight seasons with Chelsea following his controversial move from Arsenal in August 2006, winning the Premier League in 2010 and Champions League in 2012, as well as four FA Cups to add to the three he won with the Gunners.
With 107 caps for England since his 2001 debut, the left-back announced his retirement from international football this summer, following his omission from the 2014 World Cup squad, bringing down the curtain on a career which spanned five major tournaments.
With his Roma deal worth a reported £38,000 per-week, with the option to be extended into a further season, Cole will be out to prove he still has something left in the tank, as the Giallorossi bid to improve upon last season’s second place finish with their first Scudetto since 2001.
Now one of few established English players plying their trade abroad, getting out of the Premier League limelight at this point could well prove a wise decision for the polarising veteran.