For seven seasons and almost 300 matches, Joe Cole entertained the adoring masses at Stamford Bridge. The sixth signing of The Roman Era, Cole was just 21 at the time and was one of the most highly promising English talents. Injuries (and perhaps Jose Mourinho, if you subscribe to that narrative) prevented him from ever reaching his full potential. But we had some good times (and three Premier League titles) together, didn't we?
And those were just the goals!
Now 34, J.Cole has been playing for Coventry City, first on an emergency loan from Aston Villa (where he played, sparingly, last season) then on a six-month contract. Unfortunately, Coventry fell just a few points shy of making the promotion playoffs in League One.
When he joined the club in January, Joe talked about cherishing every goal, every win, every moment he had left in football. His career had seemed to end several times in the preceding years, with failed comebacks at West Ham and Villa and that time at Liverpool, too. But he seems to have found new life at Coventry, making 18 starts since January, the most since his year in Lille.
Not done yet!
Next up for Joe is be a move to America, to join the wonderfully named Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies play in the NASL, which is the second division in the USA (though there's no promotion/relegation to/from MLS). They're just a handful of games into the 2016 NASL season, with Joe signing a two-year deal with a club option for a third.
"It’s a very exciting time for me. I’ve always envisaged playing in the United States at some point in my life and this opportunity came up. My family and I came out to visit a few months ago and everyone was lovely, they really made us feel welcomed. I’m really excited to get started and I want to be part of a successful team. My desire to win football matches is still there, I’m not coming for an extended holiday. I want to win football matches and of course experience a new lifestyle with my family, but the priority for me is success on the pitch."
-Joe Cole; source: Tampa Bay Rowdies
Welcome to America, Joe Cole!