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Chelsea finally confirm Ashley Cole’s appointment as youth coach

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Chelsea Pre-Season Tour to Japan - Day 5
Petr Čech, Eddie Newton, and Ashley Cole during the Presason Tour of Japan
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Nearly two months after Ashley Cole confirmed that he’s returning to Chelsea in a coaching capacity, after also serving as club ambassador during our preseason trip to Japan, Chelsea have officially confirmed the appointment as well.

Better late than never!

The legendary left back, who hung up his boots this summer after finishing out his playing career with a six-month stint at Frank Lampard’s Derby County, was the latest ex-Chelsea player to return to the club, continuing a long-running theme that became a major motif this year.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches. They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.

“Chelsea have been quick and probably one of the first clubs to really tap into that, not just with coaches but staff in the loans team and other departments, to bring them back to pass on their experience and expertise.”

As Cole confirmed in August, he’s been working with the Chelsea under-15 and under-14 age groups, learning on the job while beginning to study for his coaching badges that will enable him to follow the likes of Frank Lampard and Jody Morris and many others. He’s already won a trophy, even, further underlining the idea of a Chelsea DNA that permeates the club from top to bottom.

“We’ll let them play, develop and solve problems themselves but we want to improve their tactical understanding as well so that in a year or two, they’ll be ahead of young players at other academies because they have that in their brains already.

“Winning is a big part of development. Of course, we’re working with young players who are still developing and learning the game, trying to get better at their technical and tactical aspects, but tournament football is time to win. This is a big club and the expectation is always high, just like with the first team and the older age groups.”

“I’ve started with the Under-15s and been back for two months now. I’m working predominantly with Frank O’Brien, who has been here for many years. He’s seen a lot of these players currently in the first team come through the ranks so he’s definitely been very influential so far.

“The lead phase coach is Ian Howell and they have a lot of experience between them. They’ve worked with the younger age groups for many years so it’s definitely been good to be working with them. The first month was about being around the place, getting to know the players and understand them because they’re still kids.”

Being a top player does not automatically qualify one to be a top coach, but it certainly can help to bring in not only your own experience but the experience of working under various managers. And Cole, like Lampard, can call upon the lessons learned under the likes of José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Ash also credits his three years at the LA Galaxy as very helpful in setting him down this path — originally he had talked about a potential scouting role, but as he got older, he slowly realized what his true calling was.

“I’ve been speaking to [Academy Director] Neil Bath about my future for a couple of years now and originally my interest leaned more towards scouting. I enjoyed watching games and analysing players or team units like defence and midfield but it was when I was playing [for LA Galaxy] that they gave me a bigger role with the coaching side.

“I wasn’t just a player there, I was sitting in on the video analysis sessions and doing one-on-one coaching with some of the younger players, which I really enjoyed. I liked to see the benefits of telling the players something and watching them produce it in game situations — that was something I loved to see so that then led to a different conversation with Neil to tell him I wanted to be a coach.”

First steps taken. Many more to go. The aim, obviously, is to be the best.

“I want to be the best. I’ve been around a lot of great players and managers so it’s about understanding what it takes. I understood as a player what it took to be the best and now it’s about trying to transfer that into how I can be the best as a coach.”

-Ashley Cole; source: Chelsea FC

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Welcome back, officially now as well, Ashley Cole!

P.S.: There’s video of this great interview with Ash on the 5th Stand App and the official website, so be sure to go and watch that as well!