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England players pay tribute to Cole

England captain Steven Gerrard believes left-back Ashley Cole deserves to be considered one of the country’s all-time greats.

The Chelsea defender will become just the seventh member of England’s 100 club when his side face Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday.

England manager Roy Hodgson has said Cole will start ahead of Leighton Baines to mark his 100th appearance.

Gerrard said Cole should be remembered as one of the all-time greats because of his consistency.

“I think he deserves to be in there,” he said.

“I look at the players I played with throughout my career and I think he’s been one of the most consistent.”

Not one of Cole’s 99 caps have come from the bench, while his 13-year international career has seen him compete at three World Cups.

England right-back Glen Johnson said the criticism of Cole throughout his career had been unfair.

“He’s been in the set-up for such a long time, and he’s been a key player and very consistent for many, many years,” he said.

“I certainly don’t feel he deserves some of the stick he sometimes gets.”

England attacker Theo Walcott was full of praise for Cole and believes the 32-year-old is the kind of player needed in the national team set-up.

“He’s massively important. He’s very experienced, he’s won many things. He’s an absolute leader in that dressing room,” the Arsenal star said.

“I’ve learned a lot from playing with him and playing against him as well. I might have had the better hand the last couple of times against him but we’re good mates. We get on very well.

“A lot of players can look up to him as well because to get to 100 caps is an absolutely fantastic achievement.

“And I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more people getting to that.”

Wed 6 February, 2013
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