Ashley Cole’s move from Arsenal to Chelsea back in 2006 caused plenty of headlines, but the former left-back has opened up on his decision to move from North to West London.
Cole established himself as a regular in the Arsenal side back in the 2000/01 season following an injury to Sylvinho, going on to make 228 appearances for the Gunners, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
However, he would make the headlines in 2006 when he opted to join Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea in a £5 million move, with William Gallas going in the opposite direction, Cole being dubbed ‘Cashley’ by the Arsenal faithful who believed his move was purely driven by money, Chelsea offering the full-back £90,000-a-week compared to the £55,000 being offered by the Gunners.
However, the 107 cap England international has insisted his move across London was due to the breakup of the legendary Arsenal side of the 90’s and early noughties, saying the ‘gaps’ were emerging in the squad and claiming the club was ‘falling apart’.
“The transition in terms of being in a different group, environment and players was easy because, at the time when I first started at Arsenal, we had a core – the Keown’s, the Seaman’s, the Vieiras, the Henry’s, the Adam’s’,” Cole told BBC Sport.
“When they started to leave, I felt there were holes in the culture of what it was that brought success. I just felt it was falling apart a bit, or there were gaps missing, and they weren’t filled.
“So that transition in terms of finding myself in a different culture and the willingness and want to win, I went to Chelsea, and I had that.”
Cole – who went on to win another league title and a record four more FA Cups at Stamford Bridge – insists that money was ‘the last thing’ on his mind, but did admit he would have perhaps done things slightly differently if given the chance again, the left-back having been fined £100,000 – later reduced to £75,000 on appeal – for his part the Blues illegal approach for his services in 2005.
“Yeah, I think when you look back, there were mistakes, for sure, on both sides,” he admitted.
“One hundred per cent, it’s not just entirely my fault and it’s not entirely their fault.
“I was probably a little bit too stubborn at the time and felt a little bit hard done by. I was a little bit babyish to be honest, but it’s something I won’t ever regret and I wouldn’t ever change that situation.
“It’s just something that happened. Maybe it was meant to be, who knows? But I definitely feel unjust about it because it wasn’t what people think in terms of money. It’s crazy, but that was probably the last thing on my mind.”