ASHLEY Cole becomes England’s latest centurion at Wembley tonight still scarcely able to believe how a skinny young boy from the East End managed to travel so far.
Coach Roy Hodgson has already confirmed Cole will follow Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and Steven Gerrard into the history books when England face Brazil.
Speaking at a special event for England sponsors Vauxhall to commemorate his 100th international appearance, Cole made it clear how thrilled he is at reaching such a significant milestone.
“I never thought a little boy from the East End would get a chance to represent my country,” he said. “I am proud, privileged and overwhelmed by how many times I have done it. When I retire I’ll look back and think I achieved something.”
And Cole owes so much to his boyhood hero David Rocastle, who sadly died from cancer in 2001, for fuelling the ambition of an Arsenal-loving schoolboy in a five-minute chat the full-back remembers to this day. “I supported Arsenal at the time and he was someone I wanted to be like,” said Cole. “After he spoke to me for those five minutes, it was all I wanted to be.”
Of his 99 caps, every one has been as a starter.