It happens to them all at some point. They tell themselves they will quit when they start to slide and then one day they wake up and they realise they already slid. "Age," Wilfrid Diamond wrote in This Guy Marciano, "is a mighty important subject for a champion, because it is the only opponent he can't lick."
That's just one of the many wonderful paragraphs from Taylor in Saturday's Guardian as he casts an eye over the downfall of one Ashely Cole. You should read the rest of the paragraphs, too, by clicking here.
Cole's time in the Italian capital is ending just a year after his time in the English capital ended as well. AS Roma have agreed to terminate the legendary left back's contract with a year still remaining on it, his performances over the past season not warranting a spot for him in the squad anymore. We've witnessed a similar decline first-hand with others, too, of course; Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard come to mind immediately. And then there's John Terry, almost exactly the same age as A.Cole, and recently the subject of a very high profile half-time substitution.
Terry is not immune to the same processes and he has been putting his body on the line for so long now it is a surprise that he has lasted to this age...
...[he is] now at the juncture of [his career] where it is unreasonable to expect [him] to go through the grind of playing every week in a league where there is Prozone data showing the speed has gone up 20% in five years. That, however, doesn't necessarily have to be a scary thought if it is handled sensibly, without some of the snap judgments we have seen over the past week.
Stories of Terry's demise have surely been greatly exaggerated. Cole's, on the other hand, probably have not. While he may yet give it a go somewhere else — MLS seems to be a popular suggestion, though teams are less likely to splash the cash on defense than attack — it sounds like he's preparing for life after football. Whether that'll involve simply traveling the world, or perhaps coming back to Chelsea in, say, a scouting capacity, or both!, we shall have to wait and see.