Joe Cole sets the record straight on his injury-plagued move to Liverpool in an exclusive interview with the ECHO, speaking on behalf of TNT Sports.
Joe Cole wants to set the record straight about his Liverpool career once and for all.
The former England international joined the Reds on a free transfer from Chelsea in the summer of 2010 but was plagued by injury during his two-and-half years with the club. Limited to 42 appearances, of which 23 were starts, he was farmed out on loan to Lille after just one season at Anfield, before leaving for West Ham United on a free transfer in January 2013 following a brief reprieve under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Admittedly, Cole is not the most popular former Liverpool player. While his Bosman arrival on a big-money deal was celebrated at the time, his struggles ultimately saw him tarred by association with the doomed manager who signed him, Roy Hodgson, and hated former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Consequently, not many tears were shed when he did leave the club.
But the 42-year-old knows this. He admits he regrets how his Liverpool career turned out, as he struggled following his recovery from a serious ACL injury at Chelsea.
And after comments about his move to the Reds earlier this month earned the former midfielder fresh backlash from supporters, he now wants to set the record straight on his move to the club.
“I did the John Obi-Mikel podcast and I think it just got taken a little out of context, what I was saying,” Cole exclusively told the ECHO, speaking on behalf of TNT Sports who will show the midweek fixtures in the Premier League this week, including Liverpool’s home clash with Chelsea on Wednesday 31 January. “I want to set a few things straight.
“We were generally talking about my career as a whole and we got onto Liverpool. What I was trying to say was, with hindsight, my body was done. I could never be the player that I was in the years before.
“I kept breaking down after that and history will say that. I was saying probably if I’d stayed at Chelsea or gone somewhere in another country, it would have probably been a little bit easier to sort of manage my body.
“But going up to Liverpool, with the expectations and everything, and then to keep breaking down. It’s been picked up like I knew I was a crock and I signed because of that, but it wasn’t.
“In my mind at the time, I was like, ‘Right, I wanna sign here because…’, obviously Chelsea made the decision that they wanted to go in a different direction, and I chose Liverpool over lots of other clubs. I loved the big nights that we played there when I went there with Chelsea. I just thought it would be cool to play in that place.
“But my body was done. I certainly wasn’t going with the intention of not doing it. Anyone who knows me knows that I was a consummate professional during that time, trying to make it work. It just wasn’t right.”
Cole is a confessed Chelsea fan and admits he’ll be cheering on his former club against Liverpool, both on Wednesday night and in next month’s League Cup final. But he holds no grudges or ill-feeling against the Reds.
Still regretting how his time at the club unfolded, he lifted the lid on how his brief stint at Anfield was ravaged by injury despite his best efforts.
“I’m a Chelsea fan and I’ll be supporting Chelsea on Wednesday night,” he admitted. “But I don’t hold any grudges with Liverpool. I’ve always liked the people and the club, it was just the wrong time for both of us.
“I know that people pick it up and it gets sensationalised, but I regret it because it didn’t work. I’m sure both parties regret it.
“But it wasn’t that I stiffed anyone at the time. My knee was just f****d, I couldn’t stay fit. With hindsight, it was a bad decision all around. Fantastic club, with good people but it just didn’t work, did it?
“I don’t like that, ‘Oh, he’s come up here and taken the money.’ I tried my nuts off, and I did. I tried everything to stay fit and get fit. I just kept breaking down.
“I’d get fit, get back in the team, maybe nick a goal here or there, start playing well but then bang, I’d break down and I’d be out for four to five weeks. Then someone else would come in and you have to fight them for a place.
“I just wasn’t getting the rhythm. It was a frustrating time, I’m not going to lie. But I did everything I could with the knowledge I had to try and stay fit.
“I’d stay at Melwood to get treatment, first one in, last one out. Some people have mileage on the clock and unfortunately, that was it. When your body is just… you see it with lots of players.
“I was lucky that I was 29 when I came so I had already had 12-13 years playing professionally. And I still played after that until I was 36, but I was never the same player that I was. That’s just how it was.”
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