Cole set to win 100th cap tonight – thoughts?

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole looks set to reach the milestone of 100 England caps as England take on Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday night, and the praise has been widespread from his peers, who appreciate the talents of a full-back who has won pretty much everything there is to win at club level.

ACCole added a Champions League winner’s medal to his impressive trophy cabinet last campaign, despite Chelsea starting the knockout stages as outsiders in the Champions League football bets with Titan Bet and his team-mates have been full of compliments for the 32-year-old.

England captain Steven Gerrard has been leading the praise, saying: “He’s probably been the most consistent player I’ve played with during my time. It’s going to be Ashley’s night, if he’s picked to play, and the players are certainly going to show him a hell of a lot of support. Let’s hope the fans do as well.

“He deserves to be a 100-cap player, there’s no doubt about it. I think there’s been years over the last 12 when Ashley Cole has been the best left-back in the world.”

Cole’s reputation with the England fans however hasn’t always been so complimentary. The popularity of ex-wife Cheryl Cole has been one reason for this, but also as the defender was reported to have shot a lad with an air rifle who was on work experience at Chelsea’s training ground.

Despite off the field antics which have been highly publicised by the media, Cole has been an almost ever-present in the England defence since making his debut under Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2001 against Albania.

Former England left-back and current Under 21 manager Stuart Pearce was full of praise for Cole’s performances on the pitch, saying: “In my mind, he’s the best left-back that’s ever played for England. That’s a fact, in my eyes.

“To play 100 times for his country is an amazing achievement. It shows not just a consistency of ability, it shows a dedication to want to turn up week in, week out, month in, month out for your country.”

Cole should receive a warm welcome from all England fans on Wednesday night; to play for your national side 100 times is a great achievement, and in doing so he will join an exclusive club. Only six players have played 100 times for England, with Gerrard also being one of them after he made his 100th appearance against Sweden in November.



Heartbreak hotel at the Liberty

There are few more disappointing things in life than conceding an injury time equaliser – well perhaps an injury time winner.  As a Lewes fan I have been used to seeing both this season, but Abi Davies hasn’t had the privilage…until the 93rd minute yesterday.

Heading into the game on the back of consecutive away defeats, Swansea City were hoping to return to winning ways when they welcomed Chelsea to The Liberty on Tuesday night.  Condemned to just a solitary defeat at home so far this season, Swansea should have had optimum confidence going into the fixture against Villas-Boas side.

Having made 10 changes for the weekends FA Cup tie at Bolton, Brendan Rodgers restored the side that started Swansea’s last league game at The Stadium of Light.

The visitors, without John Terry due to a knee injury, lined up with a centre back partnership of Luiz and Ivanovic. A highly perplexing decision given Chelsea’s recent signing of Gary Cahill, who had to settle for a place on the bench despite Villas-Boas stating that the Londoners would be a far greater force to be reckoned with, due to the recruitment of the English defender. Continue reading

Northern Jess is back…

She’s back.  Fresh from her still at the Edinburgh Festival Northern Jess has once again tried to understand the irrational world of football….

Beards are bad. No ifs and buts, they make even the most genetically perfect man look like a hobo. Take any man as an example and try to prove me wrong. Golden Balls himself has recently been spotted sporting a hairy face.  Surely one of footballs most attractive men can do no wrong but even on David Beckham it’s not a nice extra. Somehow I don’t think Victoria will be allowing the new growth to stay around for too long.

beardWhen I talk of beards, I mean at least 2 inches of growth. Stubble is a whole different ball game and entirely acceptable.  Step up Michael Owen and his perfect example of facial accessorising.  If you want to reminisce about some of the most famous beards of past and present The Daily Mail has collated their best and worst beards in the history of football.

This story is old, but it’s amusing non-the less. Some of you may, or may not, have seen it surface in February of this year.  A transsexual living in Warrington complained to her local paper about an NHS advert that told women to avoid excessive drinking, as it would lead to them looking like a man. But no-one was really that bothered about Lucy Smith’s complaint, people were much more interested in her face and the likeness it had to footballer John Terry.

After realising that she could get herself some publicity (and probably a few pennies for a new pair of stilettos) Lucy decided to discuss her “Terry’s Twin” status.  Lucy, who openly admits she has no interest in football, told the News of the World that she loves “looking like a millionaire”.  Just a pity she doesn’t look a million dollars.  See for yourself here.

14coleAnd whilst we are on the subject of Chelsea players, lets have a look at the most polar opposed couple in England – Ashley and Cheryl Cole.  Google ‘Ashley Cole hate’ and you get some interesting YouTube videos along with headlines of him being voted Britain’s most hated celebrity, that’s not to mention all the groups voicing their dislike on Facebook.  Speak to football fans across the country and you will hear a fairly similar response, he is one of the least popular players around – in fact he became the first player to be roundly booed by his own fans last year when England played Kazakhstan (see I do know a thing or two about the game!)

But through the cloud of hate that has hovered over him a Geordie Queen has emerged. Ashley’s wife Cheryl, girl band extraordinaire and glamorous X Factor judge, has risen from a background that involves council estates and drug addicts to become a huge success. Last week her first solo single, Fight for This Love, debuted at No 1 in the charts. It is the fastest selling single of 2009 so far. 26 year old Cheryl has gone from strength to strength as the boos for her husband continue to come. She has grown from a gobby lass, who shot to fame on Pop Stars: The Rivals, into a classy and groomed member of one of Britain’s most successful girl bands.  Cheryl seems endearing, a likeable honest and open Geordie. Stories of her alcoholic brother along with other less than perfect family members are often found in the tabloids but she hasn’t been held back by her complicated home life.

The 2003 incident in which she was convicted of actual bodily harm on a toilet attendant and sentenced to 120 hours community service seems to be a distant memory.  She isn’t the best singer and occasionally wears questionable outfits but as the old cliché goes, women want to be her and men want to be with her. She has created a perfect package and is adored by millions.  Cheryl is pretty and vulnerable, but not a push over. She is seen as a good role model for young children. The same could definitely not be said for Ashley.

Ashley’s football career has been riddled with stories of bad behaviour. He turned his back on Arsenal, his boyhood club, after they dared to offer him only £55,000 a week, this apparent greed alienated many fans. His secret talks with arch-rival club Chelsea only heightened their anger especially as he proceeded to lie about it, resulting in a fine.  After his move to Chelsea he added further fuel to the Ashley bonfire by writing a book in which he insulted the club and a lot of the players.  Football fans have felt animosity towards Ashley since his transfer days but it was only when he was alleged to have cheated on his wife that others began to view him in a negative light. Girl’s Aloud supporters are very loyal to Cheryl and Ashley’s infidelity immediately lost him any few fans he may have had.

While some may be quick to label her as foolish for taking back her cheating husband others praise her for taking control of her husband and working hard to get the life she wants.  Cheryl recently gave a much-publicised interview in which she admitted she trusts her dogs more than her husband. She told The Sunday Times: “I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t trust anybody in life except my mother and my dogs. I’m scared to let people know how much they mean to me, and it’s scary that you can love a small hairy thing so much.”  Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2009 for Comic Relief only added to Cheryl’s respectable image. Especially as returning from the trip she was faced with discussing Ashley’s arrest for being drunk and disorderly.  The shy little girl from South Shields has also been voted in the Top 10 Sexiest Women in the world by FHM magazine, Britain’s Best Dressed Woman by Tatler and Heat magazines “Most fanciable female” in the past 12 months…And Ashley has won, errr, a FA Cup winners medal.

_images_cheryl-tweedy-cole-elle-01Ashley told The News of The World he accepted his bad reception. He said: “I will be retired in five or six years and then the people who hate me can move on to someone else.”  And maybe even Cheryl is embarrassed about the reception her husband receives as rumour has it she won’t be attending the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as she’ll be much too busy with her solo career and work on The X Factor.  Although some argue that Ashley is the best left-back that England have his talent is hugely over-shadowed by his behaviour. It’s easy to dislike someone who gets bad press over his social life, and is a good footballer but he seems to never come up smelling of roses.  Cheryl on the other hand not only smells of flowers but is fast becoming the quintessential English Rose, even with her barbed wire tattoo around her thigh!”

Photos used from