Aston Villa's Joe Cole on how the FA Cup compares to other competitions

Joe Cole thinks the FA Cup ranks highly among the world's club cup competitions.

Aston Villa midfielder Joe Cole has said the FA Cup is the second biggest cup competition in the world after the Champions League.

Cole has experience of winning the world's oldest club cup tournament during his spell at Chelsea where he was part of a side that lifted the trophy on three occasions.

There has been talk in recent years that the FA Cup has lost its magic, with some of the bigger sides opting to play weakened teams in the earlier rounds as they focus their attentions elsewhere, but the 33-year-old has told the Aston Villa website where it ranks among the competitions he has played in.

He said: "After the Champions League, it is the biggest cup competition in the world.

"I'd prefer to win the FA Cup than, for instance, the Europa League.

"It has more prestige worldwide, in my opinion."

Ironically the reward for winning the competion - as well as lifting the trophy - is a place in next season's Europa League group stage, but that is another competition that has seemingly been devalued by English clubs as they look to focus on their domestic campaigns instead.

There is a certain element of prestige to winning the FA Cup at Wembley - lots of footballers from overseas that end up playing in England talk about watching the FA Cup final on television and recognise its tradition, as well as those at home who will no doubt come out with the story of it being every kid's dream to climb the steps and hold the trophy aloft.

This is a very good opportunity for Villa. Though much of their season has been dominated by whether they could avoid relegation or not, they are only two games away from lifting their first piece of silverware since 1996, and their first FA Cup triumph since 1957.

Even if Cole doesn't feature on Sunday, the experience of a player with such pedigree around the dressing room ahead of games like this could be an integral part of the side's preparations. Tim Sherwood will be looking to enhance his impact further by picking up a trophy within just a few months of taking charge at Villa Park. 

If Cole were to feature, there is the added incentive for him of playing against one of his former clubs, as he wasn't particularly successful at Liverpool - partly down to injuries though some would argue he never had a fair chance.

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