Ashley Cole was today officially unveiled as an AS Roma player following confirmation of his move to Italy earlier this month.
It didn’t take very long for the inevitable question to be asked of him: why don’t more English footballers play their trade abroad?
Cole, not one who has ever been afraid of saying something that may be construed as controversial, replied, "English players are probably afraid to come abroad, they're in a comfort zone in England."
No doubt this will likely bring out the large numbers of Cole haters that still won’t let him forget the “Cashley Cole” moniker all these years later, while others who are openly critical of England at national team level will inevitably ask why it has taken Cole until now to seek a challenge on foreign shores.
However, to fire such accusations and broadsides in Cole’s direction at this stage would be unfair and unwarranted. There is little question that during his time at Chelsea, Cole was the world’s premier left-back, and him moving abroad would have happened if a Bayern Munich, Barcelona, or Real Madrid had some calling with serious enough money to tempt his former club into selling.
His answer is actually rather diplomatic. He could easily have said that English players don’t have the ability to adapt to a different style and would struggle to play outside of the Premier League, and do so with some justification.
Unafraid of controversy Cole might be, but at the end of the day, he isn’t an idiot.
Cole went on in his press conference to speak of his early admiration for his new club, adding that he wanted to move abroad and specifically to Italy and to Serie A to "try a different language, culture and way of living."
Of his new club, he said, "I'm not afraid of pressure. I noticed the fans' passion and love as soon as I landed. I'm going to enjoy my time here."