Joe Cole has announced his retirement from professional football today at the grand old partially-antiquated age of 37.
That’s right. That waifish, carefree young winger with the carefully colour-coordinated wristbands is passing out after 20 years and over 700 games at the coal face.
The time has come for me to hang up my boots. 716 professional games, 104 goals, for seven great clubs, as well the honour of playing for England. It has been a dream come true. All of it.
There are key moments in every professional’s career. One of mine came when I was a young West Ham player. A senior pro, who was nearing his own retirement, said to me: ‘Enjoy every game, young man. It goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it badly after it’s gone.’ He was right.
Those words resonate even more now than they did back then. I tried to play and live by his advice every single day because being a professional footballer is an absolute honour.
Now, Pies would be fibbing to you if we said we thought Cole was actually still active, as the last we remember he was out in the States with Tampa Bay Rowdies, though that all seemed to go quiet a year or so ago.
Still, a fine, fine player in his pomp and the rarest of all hallowed beasts – an English player who played a positive style of football with genuine, natural flair.
May his furry red clef live on forever in our memories.
Favourite Joe Cole moment. pic.twitter.com/HRsdcQyK8i
— Who Ate All The Pies (@waatpies) 13 November 2018
So long Joe, and thanks. We look forward to listening to you chirrup inanely in pre- and post-match studios the length and breadth of the land from here on out.