Andrew Alexander Cole (born 15 October 1971 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire) is a retired English footballer. He is most well known by the name Andy Cole (by which he was universally known in the 1990s), but in 2000, he asked to be known as Andrew Cole.[1]

A former England international, Cole is the second-highest goals scorer in Premier League history; in his career, Cole has scored a total of 187 Premier League goals, placing him behind Alan Shearer who has 261 goals. Cole has the distinction of being one of the few players in England to have swept all possible honours in the English game, including the PFA Young Player of the Year award, as well as the coveted UEFA Champions League title. Cole was also capped fifteen times for England between 1995 and 2001, scoring once, against Albania in a World Cup Qualifier.[2] He announced his retirement from football on 11 November 2008.

Club career

Early career

Cole started his career as a youth player for Arsenal on leaving school in 1988, signing professional in 1989. He made his only league appearance for Arsenal, aged 19, as a substitute against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane during a First Division game on December 29, 1990; Arsenal won 4-1 but Cole did not score. He also made a substitute appearance against Tottenham Hotspur in the Charity Shield in 1991 and almost made an immediate impact, hitting the side netting from outside the area.

The following season he was loaned to Fulham in the Third Division, where he scored 3 goals in 13 games, before being sold to Second Division Bristol City in a £500,000 deal - at the time he was the Ashton Gate club's most expensively signed player.

Having proved himself as a competent young goalscorer with Bristol City (who began the 1992-93 in the new Football League Division One following the creation of the Premier League), Cole was quickly one of the hottest prospects in England and his name was regularly linked with Premiership clubs throughout the 1992-93 season.

Newcastle United

In February 1993, Division One leaders Newcastle United splashed out a then club record £1.75 million for his services. He then scored 12 goals in as many league games.

After David Kelly was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers, manager Kevin Keegan brought in Peter Beardsley as Cole's strike-partner for the 1993-94 Premiership campaign. Cole scored 34 goals in 40 games during Newcastle's first Premiership season as they finished third and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Cole scored a total of 41 goals in all competitions - breaking the club's goalscoring record which had been set by Hughie Gallacher nearly 70 years earlier (Gallacher still holds the record for the highest number of league goals in a season with 36). 22-year-old Cole was subsequently voted PFA Young Player of the Year for that season.

Cole then scored nine Premiership goals in 18 games for Newcastle after the start of the 1994-95 season, and also scored a hat-trick against Royal Antwerp in the UEFA Cup.[3]

In all Cole hit 68 goals in 84 games for Newcastle giving him a strike rate of 81%. In terms of goal potency per game for Newcastle only Hughie Gallacher has a better record.

Manchester United

On 10 January 1995, Cole was suddenly sold in a shock deal to Manchester United for a deal worth £7 million - £6 million cash plus £1 million-rated Keith Gillespie going in the opposite direction, setting a new record for most expensive British transfer at the time. This record was broken five months later by Arsenal's £7.5million acquisition of Dennis Bergkamp from Inter Milan.

Despite joining halfway through the 1994/95 season Cole still managed to score 12 goals in just first 18 Premiership games for United. This included his first, the winner in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on 4 February at Old Trafford and five in the 9-0 rout of Ipswich Town, a Premiership record. However, he missed two simple chances against West Ham United on the final day of the season as they could only manage a 1-1 draw and the league title went to Blackburn Rovers instead. He was cup-tied for the FA Cup final a week later. Without him, United lost to Everton 1-0. United were also without the banned Eric Cantona and the injured Andrei Kanchelskis, the club's next two highest scorers that season after Cole.

His first full season with Manchester United proved to be difficult, though Cole scored in four successive games during the winter, including an important opening goal in United's 2-0 defeat of title rivals Newcastle United on 27 December. Cole collected a Premiership title winners medal and scored the second goal in United's 3-0 defeat of Middlesbrough on the final day of the season which won United the Premiership title. He also played in their FA Cup final victory to become part of England's first ever side to win the double twice.

The arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjær - and being the victim of two broken legs suffered after a tackle by Neil Ruddock in a reserve game against Liverpool - restricted Cole's first-team chances in 1996-97, but he still played in 20 Premiership games (10 as a substitute). He ended the season with several goals to complete his comeback, and qualified for another Premiership title medal. Before the season began he had been offered to Blackburn Rovers as part-exchange in a £12 million deal which would have brought Alan Shearer to Old Trafford. But the offer was turned down and Shearer opted for Newcastle instead.

For the 1997-98 season Cole found his best form ever for the club, becoming the joint top goalscorer in the Premiership during the course of the season with 18 goals, including a slew of goals, including a chip against Everton that fans voted the Manchester United goal of the season. Cole also developed a strong partnership with Teddy Sheringham. However, United finished trophyless for only the second time in 9 seasons. Cole scored his first European hat-trick for the club in an away match at Feyenoord. Cole ended the season runner up in the PFA Players' Player of the Year award to Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp.

But despite this and being the leading goalscorer in all competitions that season with 25, Cole was omitted from England's 1998 World Cup squad by then-manager Glenn Hoddle.[3] When asked about his new found success, Cole claimed that he had found freedom in his life after the injuries of the previous season, saying he had great joy with his newborn son, and lived for him and in his faith as a Born again Christian. He also claimed the friendship of Ryan Giggs, his room-mate on away games, was a major motivating factor even though times were hard and fans doubted him at United.

Cole faced competition from Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær during the 1998-99 season but developed a partnership with Yorke, which saw him play a key role in the side's unique treble of the Premiership title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Cole scored the winning goal in United's final Premiership game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur, a result which meant United finished 1 point ahead of rivals Arsenal to win the Premiership title. He also scored United's third and winning goal in their Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus, sealing their place in the final for the first time in over 30 years. The striking partnership with Yorke contributed 53 goals between them. Also in this season, Cole scored his 100th Premiership goal in a top of the table clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford on February 17. The match ended 1-1.

He was United's top scorer again in 1999-2000 with 19 goals in 28 Premiership games. He collected his fourth Premiership title medal in five seasons, and scored over 20 goals in all competitions for the third successive season. Cole scored many goals for United including the only goal of the game in their top of the table clash against their closest rivals Leeds United. He also joined an elite group during this season by scoring his 100th goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Wimbledon. Injury just prior to Euro 2000 led to Cole missing out on another major competition for his country.

Another title followed in 2000-01 when, despite suffering from an injury that restricted his appearances, Cole scored 13 goals in all competitions, including four in the European Cup allowing him at the time to become Manchester United's record goal scorer in the competition.

He made one last appearance for Manchester United in the UEFA Celebration Match on 13 March 2007, coming on at half time for a friendly game between Manchester United and European XI in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the European Community and 50 years of Manchester United in the European Cup.

Blackburn Rovers

The arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastián Verón counted against Cole's first-team chances in the 2001-02 season, and on 29 December 2001 he was sold to Blackburn Rovers for £8million.[2] Within two months of arriving he had collected a League Cup winners medal, scoring the winning goal for Blackburn in the final against Tottenham Hotspur who were managed by the former England manager and open critic of Cole, Glenn Hoddle. This victory meant that, in the space of seven seasons, Cole had won all three domestic trophies plus a European trophy. Cole ended the season with a total of 18 goals in all competitions, 5 for Manchester United and 13 for Blackburn.

Rovers finished sixth the following season and qualified for the UEFA Cup. That campaign saw Cole reform the striker partnership with Dwight Yorke, who had signed for Blackburn from Manchester United for £2million in July 2002.

Cole had a frustrating season in 2003-04 as Rovers slid into the bottom half of the Premiership. Cole scored 11 goals but his relationship with his boss Graeme Souness hit rock bottom after Cole reported him to the PFA accusing him of unfair treatment.

Fulham

13 years after spending one month on loan at Fulham, Cole returned to Craven Cottage for the 2004-05 season joining them on a one-year contract.[4] He was the club's top scorer and scored one of the goals of the season against Liverpool. Despite this successful period at Fulham he decided to leave the club after only one season as his family wanted to return to the north west.

Manchester City

Cole signed for Manchester City on a free transfer at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.[5] Cole enjoyed a good start to his career at Eastlands and Stuart Pearce's side's spent most of the season in the top half of the table. However Cole's season was ended by injury in March.

Portsmouth

Despite signing a new contract with Manchester City only months earlier[6] and leaving Fulham in 2005 to return to the north, Cole signed for south coast club Portsmouth on transfer deadline day (31 August 2006) for an undisclosed fee expected to rise to £1 million depending on appearances.[7] He scored his first league goal for his new club in the 2-0 win at home to West Ham on 14 October 2006.[8]

On March 21, 2007, he signed on loan for Birmingham City of the Championship until the end of the season.[9] Cole returned to Portsmouth after five appearances and one goal for Birmingham. He was released on 3 August 2007.[10]

Sunderland

Cole signed a one year contract with Sunderland on a free transfer, reuniting him with former Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers strike partner Dwight Yorke, and under the management of former United teammate Roy Keane. After seven games for the club he was loaned out to Burnley and was released at the end of the 2007–08 Premier League season.

Burnley

Cole joined Burnley in a loan deal on 29 January 2008 and scored a hat-trick in their 4-2 win at QPR on 12 February, his first hat-trick for seven and a half years.

Nottingham Forest

On 4 July 2008, Cole signed a 12-month deal with Nottingham Forest, his 12th club. However, on 31 October 2008, Forest confirmed that Cole's contract had been cancelled by mutual consent, after eleven appearances and no goals.

On 11 November 2008, Cole announced his retirement from football, bringing an end to a 19-year career.[11]

International career

Despite first being capped for England in 1995, he had earned only 15 caps by the time he announced his retirement from international football after failing to be selected for the 2002 FIFA World Cup squad. He scored one goal for England, in a World Cup qualifying match against Albania in March 2001. He also scored in his single appearance for the England B team.

Glenn Hoddle, in defence of his decision not to select Cole for the World Cup in 1998, accused Cole of needing 6 or 7 chances to score one goal.[12]

Cole earned his first four caps under four managers for an average of one manager per appearance. He made his debut against Uruguay under Terry Venables in 1995, appeared next against Italy under Glenn Hoddle at the Tournoi de France in 1997, made his third appearance against France under caretaker Howard Wilkinson in 1999 and finally earned his fourth cap against Poland under new manager Kevin Keegan in his first starting appearance a few weeks later.

Personal life

Cole married his wife Shirley in 2002.[13] They have a son called Devante,[14] and presently live in the northwest, neighbours of Rio Ferdinand.

In 1999, Cole released the unsuccessful single "Outstanding", a cover of the 1982 song of the same name, which peaked below the UK Top 40.

Charity work

In 2000, Cole visited Zimbabwe and returned to set up his own charity foundation called the "Andy Cole Children's Foundation" which helped aid orphans in Zimbabwe. The charity was registered with the Charity Commission in the United Kingdom under number 1079911. The charity has since been rebranded as All Star Kids, as Andy Cole is no longer involved.

Career honours

Playing honours

Newcastle United

  • Football League First Division
    • Winner (1): 1992-93

Manchester United

  • Premier League
    • Winner (5):1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01
  • FA Cup
    • Winner (2): 1995-96, 1998-99
    • Runner-up (1): 1994-95
  • FA Community Shield
    • Winner (2): 1996, 1997
    • Runner-up (3): 1998, 1999, 2000
  • UEFA Champions League
    • Winner (1): 1998-99
  • UEFA Super Cup
    • Runner-up (1): 1999
  • Intercontinental Cup
    • Winner (1): 1999

Blackburn Rovers

  • Football League Cup
    • Winner (1): 2001-02

Individual honours

  • PFA Young Player of the Year (1994)

Popular Culture

Welsh band Catatonia name-checked Cole on their 1996 b-side "Do You Believe In Me?". The lyrics include the line "I'm Andy Cole's tortured soul, missed out again in front of goal."

References and Notes

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