When a list of great strikers is made, the name of Andy, or Andrew Cole rarely features. During his career, he somewhat unfairly made his name almost as much for missing chances as he did for scoring them.
Despite a glittering club career and a record that is hard to match, his international career never took off. He only got fifteen caps for England and scored just the one goal.
Despite that, his record of one hundred and eighty seven Premier League goals is bettered only by Alan Shearer and his goalscoring prowess was a major factor in Manchester UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazing treble winning season of 1998-99.
Maybe, with hindsight, Andrew Cole should feature in some of those lists.
Now, at the age of thirty-seven, the former Manchester United, Newcastle United and England striker has retired from playing after failing to make an impression at his hometown club Nottingham Forest where he failed to score in just eleven appearances.
Cole has said that he hopes to move into coaching or management and he told the Times newspaper that he wants to stay in the game. “It’s not an ideal ending but I wouldn’t change a thing, I’ve lived the dream. I’ve all this experience and I don’t want to keep it to myself. I want to give something back, I don’t think this is the end of the Andrew Cole story. Hopefully it’s a new chapter.”
Cole has had a distinguished nineteen year playing career during which he has played for many clubs. Although he has spent time at Arsenal, Bristol City, Blackburn, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Sunderland, Burnley and Nottingham Forest, it is for the period at the peak of his career at Newcastle United and Manchester United that his fantastic ability will be most fondly remembered.
Having broken into the professional game at Arsenal, Cole made just one appearance for them before moving to the then second division Bristol City in a Ã‚Â£500,000 deal which at the time made him Bristol CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most expensive ever signing, as a twenty year old in 1992.
In less than two seasons at Ashton Gate Cole scored twenty goals in forty-one league games and quickly developed a reputation that had Premier League clubs taking note.
Instead of moving directly to the Premier League , in February 1993, Division One (now the Championship) leaders, Newcastle United splashed out what was another club record fee of Ã‚Â£1.75 million for his services. On his arrival at St JamesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Park he scored twelve goals in twelve league games, helping them to promotion to the Premier League.
In that first season in the Premier League, 1993-94, Newcastle finished in third place and qualified for the Uefa Cup. One of the main reasons for that was the fact that Cole scored a remarkable thirty-four goals in forty league games. In total he scored forty-one goals that season and was given the PFA young player of the year award.
At the start of the next season, Cole bagged nine goals in eighteen games and also scored a Uefa Cup hat-trick. Then in January 1995 the football world was shocked by the news that Cole had been transferred to Manchester United.
This transfer was again a record as the Ã‚Â£7 million deal was the most expensive ever British transfer.
ColeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s scoring record in just under two years at Newcastle was quite remarkable. In a total of eighty-four games he scored sixty-eight goals. That is the best striking rate that anyone in modern times at Newcastle, or indeed anywhere else has achieved.
In eight seasons at Manchester United, Cole won five Premier League titles, the Champions League and two FA Cups. In the league he played one hundred and ninety five games and scored ninety-three goals.
Although scoring goals on his travels after he left Old Trafford, Cole never managed to quite reach the same dizzy heights.
It is remarkable that in those eleven seasons at Newcastle United and Manchester United, Andrew Cole scored an incredible one hundred and forty-eight league goals in two hundred and sixty-five games. That equated to a goal every 1.8 games.
When you look at the facts and figures it becomes very clear that Andrew Cole deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the very best of strikers in recent years.
I hope he does find work in the game and that his experience and expertise is not lost to English football.
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