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I wish I hadn’t signed for Liverpool – I only joined them because I was wrecked

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Joe Cole has revealed all about leaving Chelsea in 2010 and why he wouldn’t have chosen to join Liverpool if he had his time again.

Cole has admitted he wouldn’t join Liverpool if he had his time again – and only left Chelsea because he knew he was on the decline as a player.

The former England international suffered a serious knee injury away at Southend United in the FA Cup in January 2009, with the now 42-year-old pinpointing it out as a turning point in his career. A boyhood Chelsea fan, he would leave the club at the end of his contract 18 months later.

Liverpool would see off competition from Tottenham Hotspur to land the playmaker on a Bosman transfer as he became one of Roy Hodgson’s first signings at the club. However, unveiled alongside would-be flops Milan Jovanovic and Danny Wilson, his time at the club was not a success.

Cole would only make 42 appearances during his time with the Reds, registering five goals and four assists. Falling out of favour under Sir Kenny Dalglish, he was loaned to Lille after his disappointing first season at the club but would return under Brendan Rodgers.

But that didn’t stop him from being allowed to join West Ham United on a free transfer just six months later in January 2013, despite having another 18 months left on his contract.

Cole admits he would have preferred to stay put at Chelsea, but, realising he was no longer the same player after injury, thought it best to leave Stamford Bridge when making his move to Liverpool.

“(Contract) negotiations started and we were getting there, but then I done my knee,” he recalled when appearing on former team-mate John Obi Mikel’s ‘The Obi One’ podcast. “I was nearly 29 or just turned 29 (when I left).

“I done my knee and that was probably the start of the end of my career because I was never the same player after that. I done everything, ACL, PCL, MCL, and I was out for 11 months.

“It hurt me but in hindsight, Chelsea were right, from a business perspective. They stopped the negotiations to see how I was when I came back… so from being in a really strong position to negotiate a contract, doing my knee, Chelsea pulled back from negotiations.

“Then I come back in October time. By this time, Carlo (Ancelotti) had come into the club… I was coming in off the bench, playing well, but it was hard to break back into the team.

“The guys went away to the Africa Cup of Nations in the January. I knew I’d have a chance to play regularly. I played every game, six, seven or eight games in a row, played really well and then they started, ‘We can offer you this new contract.’ It wasn’t at what it was before.

“My ego got involved a little bit and football was more of a struggle. I would play, knee would blow up. I couldn’t do certain things that I used to be able to do. I needed an ice pack (after every game on my knee), I was in a lot of pain… it’s very rare you get back to where you were…

“And then they stopped the negotiations. But Carlo actually wanted me to stay. I believe Carlo because he’s a good, decent human. He said, ‘I want to play you but Kalou and Malouda are playing so well.’

“I’m sensible enough to know that they’re playing well. I don’t knock on the manager’s door if they’re not. But I was playing well when I played as well, that’s why we won the double. Everyone was doing their bit…”

He continued: “It got to the end of the season… my body was just failing me… it was a title-decider up at Old Trafford and I started. We had to win the game, we couldn’t draw otherwise we’d lose the league, and I pulled my back right in the last two minutes (of training)…

“I scored… We won the game but I don’t think I could train for three or four days afterwards. I really wrecked myself. That’s how my body was after it.

“Something subconsciously clicked and I thought to myself, ‘I’m never going to get (back) to the player I was. I’ve got to leave.’ Because I don’t want to finish my Chelsea career, just sitting there on the injury table.”

Reflecting on his move to Liverpool, Cole revealed why he ultimately chose to move to Anfield. But in hindsight, he admitted he wished he had move abroad instead.

“I had a choice between Liverpool or Spurs because Arsenal pulled out and I just couldn’t go to Spurs,” he said. “I just couldn’t go.

“It would have made sense, Harry Redknapp was the manager, they had a good team, I lived in London, half my pals are Spurs fans. I just couldn’t do it.

“My daughter was just born and Liverpool is a great club. It didn’t work for me there but it is a fantastic club, an institution globally.

“But if I could have my time again, I would probably go, ‘No, you know what, wait.’ And I’d have gone abroad, somewhere hot, because playing in the heat actually helped my knee.

“Because after that I went to Liverpool, West Ham, Villa. I had a good season in France, but with my knee, I was just managing my injuries. Managing to still play, play well sometimes but never really consistently like I had been. I never played for England again after 2010.

“Then when I went to America, it was like a miracle. Living in the sun, my knee was like 60-70%. It’s still not right now but I could still play. It was like a miracle.

“If I could have hindsight, I would have gone abroad somewhere hot, maybe Spain or Southern Italy somewhere, and I think I could have played at the top level for a little bit longer.”

He continued: “Ultimately, I wasn’t the same player after that knee injury. That’s sad but I had a long career…

“The only regret I have, and it’s nothing I could do anything about, I think to myself, if I hadn’t done my knee at Southend, and I could have had another five, six or seven years at Chelsea, I think I would have won the Champions League with the lads in 2012.

“But there’s nothing you can do about it. I started playing professional football in the Premier League at 17, and got smashed to bits. By the time I was 29, I was just an old car and the fan belt had run out! The knee was gone, I was a Ford Cortina by the end!”

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