Analysing the Legacy of Ashley Cole on Chelsea's Seasons of Success

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Analysing the Legacy of Ashley Cole on Chelsea's Seasons of Success
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

There's a song Chelsea fans sing in dedication to Ashley Cole.

"Ashley Cole's won the European Cup, the European Cup, the European Cup," they often cheer.

Unfortunately, like the yellow submarine of which The Beatles sang—the tune to which Cole's song has plagiarized—it seems the left-back's Chelsea career is sinking to new depths.

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It's been sudden and in some ways ruthless, with his tears on the Stamford Bridge pitch on Sunday suggesting his appearance against Norwich City may well be the last time Blues fans see him in their colors in West London.

If it proves to be so, it will be a sad end to what has been a glorious career, but the problems Cole has faced this season will not be what he is remembered for in West London.

It will be the subject of that song.

Joining Chelsea in 2006 from Arsenal, Cole's transfer was controversial to say the least.

There had already been the "tapping up" row between Chelsea and Arsenal a year earlier, when Jose Mourinho and then Chief Executive Peter Kenyon were spotted meeting Cole and his agent in a London restaurant.

It resulted in Chelsea being fined £300,000, Mourinho £200,000 and Cole £100,000, per BBC Sport.

Unsavory as it was, Chelsea would eventually get their man when Cole moved to Stamford Bridge the following season in a swap deal that saw William Gallas (plus £5 million) move the other way.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

Even without Chelsea's underhand tactics, Gunners fans would have remained incandescent at Cole's decision to swap North London for west. He was one of them; he had come through the youth ranks.

It was always going to be messy and the controversy just added to it.

Cole had one thing on his mind, though—success.

The Englishman craved silverware at home and abroad, and he knew that by joining Chelsea, his chances of lifting more trophies was only going to be heightened.

Looking at what he has won since that 2006 move, it's not hard to see the logic, either.

Since 2006, Cole and Chelsea have won the Premier League, four FA Cups, the League Cup, Europa League and the jewel in the crown, the Champions League.

Arsenal have won nothing. Zilch.

"Now no-one can say nothing to me. This is the reason I came here."

Those were Cole's words when Chelsea lifted the Champions League in 2012. Speaking to Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath of that dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, the emotion in his face says it all.

Years of being the subject of verbal taunts from Arsenal fans, having his reputation dragged through the mire by the media and others, he had proved them all wrong.

He hadn't done it through unethical means, sitting on the bench and picking up winners' medal and winners' medal on the back of his team-mates efforts. No, Cole had done it at the top of his game.

Jon Super/Associated Press

The 33-year-old has been the world's stand-out left-back for the past decade, and while time has caught up with him, others surpassing his talents as we now know them, Cole has been a vital element of the Chelsea fabric.

Indeed, he may not be a Chelsea product in the same way John Terry is, yet Cole and the Blues have forged an unlikely kinship. In many ways, they were made for each other.

With an unrelenting pursuit of success, the Blues haven't won many friends in the way they have gone about it—sacking managers at will, buying up talent and being brash in the process; it's been a bit too much for traditionalists to stomach.

Cole did something similar when he left Arsenal, acting in a way that had a total disregard for what others may have thought. It was about him, his career and his success.

Tim Hales/Associated Press

Look where it has got him.

Cole is the man who risked everything to join Chelsea. He gambled his reputation in a bid to win trophies and further his career. It's worked spectacularly.

When we consider how Chelsea have risen to become English football's most successful club since 2005, Roman Abramovich's name sits at the forefront of our minds. As does Mourinho's.

In years to come, that fact will remain so, but alongside them will be Ashley Cole.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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