Hall of Fame

Cole: My dad wanted me to play cricket, now I'm in the Hall of Fame!

22 Apr 2024

Andrew Cole looks back on his Premier League career after being inducted alongside Ashley Cole and John Terry

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After being inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, Andrew Cole looks back on his career and what made it so special.

On being inducted into the Hall of Fame…

"I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved in football, which is thanks to my family, my coaches and my team-mates. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame makes me very proud.

"Football is a game of ups and downs, but I enjoyed every single minute of my career. My dad wanted me to play cricket, but I said, ‘No, Dad, I think I’m good at football.’ Looking back at my career always fills me with great pride and puts a smile on my face.

"The reason you play football and compete at the highest level is to win major honours. It was so, so special for me to win so many trophies and five Premier Leagues. To get my first one was crazy and after that I just wanted more."

On his winning mentality…

"Sometimes I hear people saying, ‘It’s not about winning.’ If you’re playing at an elite level, what’s it about? It’s about winning.

"When you play for one of the leading clubs and there’s a chance to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions League, that’s what you’re meant to do.

"That was always my mentality from when I was a kid, I wanted to be a winner. I just wanted to be able to look back on my career and myself and know I’ve done just fine."

Andrew Cole
On why he didn’t take penalties…

"Twelve yards is too far for me!

"I always used to say to myself that if I couldn’t score from open play, I wasn’t good enough to play at that level.

"You’ve got to score goals in open play and a penalty is a bonus. Once I viewed it like that, and the way I wanted to play, I just said to myself, I don’t want penalties. I wanted to know that I was good enough to just score goals in open play.

"People still ask the question now; ‘Coley do you know if you took penalties you would have been X, Y and Z?’ I always say it is what it is."

On leaving Arsenal for Bristol City aged 20…

"My biggest motivation was knowing that a lot of people were saying a lot of things when I left Arsenal. I was more than good enough but wasn’t given the opportunity and that hurt.

"But making the move to Bristol City when I did was the biggest move I could have made at that stage in my career. The manager Denis Smith came in and paid £500,000 for a kid who basically hadn’t been playing a lot of football. I remember he said: ‘That's it, Coley. I've got no more money now. But I believe in you, I believe you'll come here and you'll score goals.'

"Denis was absolutely massive for me because he was prepared to take that gamble and prepared to give me the opportunity to play football. I remember him saying to me as well, 'I'll never stand in your way. If anyone comes in for you.' He said, 'I'll let you go, no problem.' And he was very true to his word."

On his first Premier League season in 1993/94 for Newcastle…

"That season was so, so special because I don't think many people knew what to expect from Newcastle. People didn't know what to expect from me and I didn't know what to expect for myself!

"My first season in the Premier League playing against players that I'd watched on the TV and to end the season like I did with 34 goals was fantastic but without the team-mates that I played with, it wasn't possible.

"To know that record stood for so long and knowing that I didn't score one penalty in that season, that's why I hold it so dearly.

"I enjoyed playing under Kevin Keegan. I remember him changing my game to what it was at Bristol City, just wanting to get in the box and score goals.

"They’re so warm and welcoming, the Geordies. All they want to do is show you how much they enjoyed you playing for their football club and doing what you did best and that was scoring goals and trying and play well for them."

Andrew Cole
On moving to Manchester United…

"Paul Ince always used to say to me, 'Coley, the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] likes you,' and I used to laugh and joke about it.

"I was at Newcastle, at that stage, and to be honest I never believed that that move would have ever happen. Newcastle were buying players to make themselves a stronger team.

"I remember it like it was yesterday. I was about to sit down and watch Sheffield United v Manchester United in the FA Cup and I got a call: the move to Manchester United’s on and I was like, ‘How's that possible? It's just lodged in my memory that Newcastle and Kevin Keegan were prepared to sanction the deal.

"Chris Sutton had moved for £5million in the summer and back then that was a hell of a lot of money. Then I go for £6m in January and all of a sudden the magnifying glass is on myself as well as Manchester United.

"I wanted to justify the price tag. That took a little bit of time to get used to. But with time and once I got myself into my groove and started to believe, I think things got a little bit easier."

On finishing second in his first Man Utd season in 1994/95...

"We drew the last game of the season, but we lost the title. In the dressing room after, everyone was talking about next season – how many points we were going to win the league by the next season.

"I was sitting there, saying to myself, ‘Wow, this is absolutely unbelievable.’ Yes, I’m devastated that we didn't have the opportunity to go out and win it. But just listening to the players’ mentality, we couldn't wait to get back the following season because that's how disappointed we were when we lost the league."

On winning his first Premier League Trophy…

"That's why you play football and compete at the highest level: to win things, to win major honours. It was so, so special.

"Many people have always spoken about how winning the first one means a hell of a lot and I'm no different to anybody else.

"To win my first one was crazy, to know that I'm a Premier League winner. When you've grown up playing football, aspiring to be a professional football, one of the things you want to be able to win is your respective league. When I won the first one, it was a great feeling, and all I thought was, ‘I want to be able to do it again.’ "

On Man Utd’s 1998/99 Treble-winning season…

"I don't know where to start or where to finish. There's no word for me that can actually sum it up even after all this time.

"Growing up as a kid, I always wanted to play at the highest level – in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup. I wanted to win those competitions and being able to do all those things in one season and complete the Treble is something I’ll never be able to sum up.

"Someone could say I'm very lucky. I think I am lucky as well. As the saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

"It was an absolutely amazing season. It's a bit of a blur now but being able to do what we did, and win the Treble that season was phenomenal.

"I don't think we understood just how great it was what we achieved. And if you speak to the majority of the boys who were in the team now, the biggest thing we always used to say is that we didn't celebrate enough.

"It has taken 20-odd years for another team to do it. Obviously, you can't be greater than the first team that did it! We set the trend."

Cole and Yorke
On his partnership with Dwight Yorke…

"I love Yorkey, he’s like my brother, but we're so different. We’re total opposites. Yin and yang. I think that's why we get on. You know, we laugh at different things. But when we're together, you know, you'd never think we'd been apart.

"Some things in life are meant to be. Yorkey coming to Manchester United when he did and the manager not being able to bring in Patrick Kluivert like he wanted to."

On leaving Man Utd for Blackburn Rovers…

"I was disappointed to leave Manchester United. I had such a good relationship with the manager and remember him saying to me ‘Coley, you don’t have to go anywhere, you can stay as long as you’d like.’

"But I’ve always had this drive and fire in me. If I don’t feel like I’m putting in a shift, it’s not for me. I think that’s come from the way I’ve been brought up, from my dad and my grandad.

"You work hard, you work your own money, you don’t rely on anybody and that was always my mentality; ‘I’ve got to put a shift in.’

"I enjoyed it. I went to Blackburn. The only domestic trophy I was missing was the League Cup. I went to Blackburn and won that and I was absolutely buzzing to complete the set."

Cole and Yorke

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