Carlton Cole claims he rejected move to Al-Arabi before signing for Celtic

Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole says he rejected the chance to reunite with Gianfranco Zola.

Celtic striker Carlton Cole has told The Scottish Sun that he snubbed the chance to sign for Al-Arabi this summer, despite Gianfranco Zola's attempts to land him.

Cole, 32, made his return to football on Thursday, penning an 18-month contract with Celtic having been released by West Ham United at the end of last season.

The striker is looking to provide a physical presence that the Bhoys attack have been lacking, following a lengthy trial with the club as manager Ronny Deila made sure he was the right signing.

Cole has now committed himself to Celtic, but he has opened up about a potential move over the summer which he chose to reject.

Speaking to The Scottish Sun, Cole says that his former West Ham manager and Chelsea team-mate Gianfranco Zola offered him the chance to join him in Qatar with his new club Al-Arabi - but Cole stated that he wasn't interested, and that his eventual move to Celtic was a 'no-brainer'.

"Zola was one I really looked up to during my time at Chelsea," said Cole. "I spoke to him last summer after leaving West Ham. He was over at a team in Qatar. He was enquiring if I would like to go over there. But I told him it wasn’t right for me at this stage of my career."

"Then I got a call about Celtic, and for me it was a no-brainer. The time I’ve been here at Celtic, I’ve felt really wanted. That’s why I am here, and at this stage of my career I want that feeling again," he added.

Cole could make his Bhoys debut today as Deila's side take on Dundee United, with a victory needed following their dismal 3-1 Europa League defeat to Molde on Thursday night.

Having a veteran, physical presence like Cole in attack gives Celtic something different, and Deila may look to give him some playing time in order to gauge how he will adjust to life in Scottish football.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch