Tag Archives: Ashley Cole

My Premier League Hall of Fame inductees

The Premier League has formally announced a hall of fame for 2021 and the first two inductees are absolutely no shock to anyone.

Premier League all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer and legendary Arsenal striker Thierry Henry were announced as the first men to enter the new hall of fame, along with a list of other nominees who could potentially enter after a fan vote.

23 other players have been made available to be inducted off the back of those votes, with each person able to vote for six of the 23. With criteria including a retirement date before August 2020, some players such as Wayne Rooney are ineligible but the options are still phenomenal.

The 23 players eligible to vote for are as follows:

Tony Adams, David Beckham, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Matt Le Tissier, Michael Owen, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Vieira, Ian Wright.

In no particular order and taking a look at the full list of players, here’s my picks for who should join them.

It’s not often that the Premier League had a player who spent the vast majority of their career in the league and was one of the best ever in his position. That is something that Ashley Cole can claim for himself though.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea man was part of the ‘Invincibles’ that went unbeaten over an entire season and then won another title with the Blues as part of Carlo Ancelotti’s record breaking side. He was always one of the most reliable defenders in the division defensively, while making 385 appearances in the competition. For me the best full-back in Premier League history, he is a sure-fire pick to get in the hall of fame.

Andy Cole : News Photo

Another Cole up for nomination who deserves his flowers is Andrew, the former Newcastle, Manchester United, Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, Portsmouth and Sunderland striker.

Cole rose to prominence for the Magpies, scoring 43 goals in 58 Premier League appearances before a British record £6m + Keith Gillespie move to Old Trafford. He would go on to be a lethal number nine for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, scoring 93 times in 195 Premier League games for the Red Devils.

He won five league titles with the Reds before leaving and when it was all said and done he finished up with 187 Premier League goals. That currently sits him behind on Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in the all-time charts, but what makes it even more special is that he never scored any of those goals from the penalty spot. Such a stunning record with such phenomenal success in the competition, he deserves his spot among the elite in the hall of fame.

It’s pretty hard to do a hall of fame and not have a huge influx of Manchester United players considering their leading 13 titles in the competition.

A huge part of that success was the midfield pairing of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through the nineties and early 00’s, where together they won six Premier League titles. From the moment Scholes came through as part of the Class of 92, United were able to maintain their dominance in the competition and he became one of the most successful players to ever play in it.

Keane was successful before Scholes though, winning the title in 1993/94 alongside Paul Ince too and was then runner-up the year Blackburn shocked the world. The Irish international is regarded as the best captain in the league’s history and was also named in the PFA team of the century as well as the PFA team of the year five times.

Scholes won 11 titles during his time in the league and was included in two PFA team of the years too and scored over 100 league goals. Together they formed the best midfield pairing in the competition’s history but individually their successes stand out more than most and they both deserve their name to be enshrined among the greatest Premier League players ever.

That leaves two places and there’s no way that Frank Lampard can miss out. The former West Ham, Chelsea and Man City midfielder is the highest scoring midfielder in Premier League history and one of only two players to have more than 100 goals and assists.

Lampard broke into the Premier League scene after coming through the West Ham academy under his uncle Harry Redknapp’s tutelage. After initially struggling with the pace and physicality of the league he impressed enough to attract the attention of Claudio Ranieri across London and would go on to become a cornerstone of the Blues during the Roman Abramovich era.

With 177 Premier League goals to his name, he was key as Chelsea won three Premier League titles and ran Manchester United and Manchester City close several times. He was Chelsea’s top goalscorer domestically five times and went on to become the club’s all-time top goalscorer. He has to be included.

The final spot has to be between two of Lampard’s former teammates, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Two of the best central defenders in the world in their prime and two of the best in Premier League history, it’s hard to pick between the two.

For me though, one had more success and was the better defender of the two and therefore it’s Ferdinand who gets the nod. The former West Ham and Leeds defender won six league titles and was in six PFA team of the year’s during his Premier League career. Terry won five titles and was in the PFA team of the year four times, so there isn’t much between it in terms of honours but on the pitch the eye test is always the more telling way to separate players.

Ferdinand was able to play in a low-block, a high line or whatever is between the two. He had the pace to go one-on-one with any attacker in world football but also had the added quality on the ball that any top defender needs to have in a top team.

Terry was always at his best with less space behind him due to a lack of pace, which was criminally exposed during his short time playing under Andre Villas-Boas. He was able to play at the higher level for longer that Ferdinand, considering he struggled at QPR and Terry won the title in his final season despite not being a regular in the team any more.

It could go either way, and I may be biased, but Ferdinand for me was the best centre half England have ever produced and therefore deserves his flowers to be among the first inductions into the hall of fame.

Serie A XI vs Premier League XI: 1992 – Present


Before we get too far into it, “all-time” is defined by the life span of the Premier League in this instance to try and keep it as fair as possible. Anyone who played in Serie A or the Premier League between August 1992 and today was eligible to be selected, but I selected the players I saw most of and believe were the best.

I think it’s widely accepted that in the 1990’s, Serie A was the place to be if you were a world class footballer.

Italy started the decade by hosting the World Cup and losing in the semi-finals to Argentina in extra-time. It was the end of an era but also the start of one, as they began to bring through incredible youth players all over the pitch that would go on to become world champions in 2006.

Their domestic league was as competitive as always too. There have been five different winners since the 1992/93 season but a huge 12 clubs have finished in the top 3 positions since then too.

They have been blessed with some of the greatest talent of all time, and yet the majority of them won’t make it into this team.

Claudio Villa Archive : News Photo

The likes of Cafu, Chiellini, Thuram, Davids, De Rossi, Gattuso, Zidane, Kaka, Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko and Baggio all saw their primes in Serie A and yet they won’t make it into this lineup for me. I’m aware you’ll all shout at me in the comments or on Twitter, but it is what it is.

The Premier League on the other hand has managed to grab the tag-line “best league in the world” over the last 20 odd years and it’s hard to argue sometimes. Some of the all-time great players plied their trade in England, while some of the greatest teams in recent history have also come from England.

Arsenal v Manchester United : News Photo

Much like Serie A, some superstar names will miss out in this team too. Players like Schmeichel, Irwin, Lauren, Campbell, Van Dijk, Carvalho, Evra, Vieira, Giggs, Gerrard, Lampard, Yaya Toure, David Silva, De Bruyne, Fabregas, Beckham, Owen, Fowler, van Nistelrooy, Cantona, Bergkamp, Suarez, Hazard and Salah won’t be involved.

So lets take a look at who is involved, shall we?

In goal, it’s a battle between two legends. Gianluigi Buffon was the only logical pick for Serie A’s team, with over 650 appearances. He has won the title a record ten titles too, making him the only possible option.

For the Premier League, Petr Cech gets the nod. The former Chelsea and Arsenal stopper’s prime was one of the most unreal things I ever witnessed, with Cech conceding just 15 goals in his first Premier League season followed by just 22 the following year and won the title four times.

AC Milan v Inter Milan - Serie A : News Photo

In front of them will be two of the greatest defences you could possibly build from that generation.

Javier Zanetti and Gary Neville are two long-serving, former captains of their respective clubs where they spent almost their entire careers. Zanetti is the Inter Milan player with the most appearances for the club in history, while Gary Neville came through the academy and retired at Manchester United. Both were excellent defenders in their prime, too. Zanetti was an athletic, strong full-back who’s technical quality allowed him to move into midfield for a spell in his career. Neville was a bit more basic without the athleticism, but had a wicked delivery and was a solid one on one defender.

On the left, you have two of the best defenders in history. While Paolo Maldini is most often referred to as a centre-back, I saw him mostly at left back for Milan and he was incredible. Strong in the tackle, an excellent reader of the game, perfect timing and great technically. He’s only bettered in that role in history to me by the Premier League’s pick – Ashley Cole. The former Arsenal and Chelsea man had a very short spell in Serie A with Roma, but his peak came in the Premier League as part of Arsenal’s Invincibles and then with Chelsea’s Champions League winning side.

England v Hungary : News Photo

In the middle, I can’t think of two more complete central defender pairings you could make in my lifetime. Alessandro Nesta and Rio Ferdinand are, to me, the two best centre backs I’ve ever seen. Alongside them you’d have Fabio Cannavao, the 2006 Ballon d’Or winner and World Cup winning captain, and John Terry. Terry was incredibly underrated for his ability on the ball with both feet, but was also imperious in the air in both boxes and willing to put his body on the line to block a shot like any Italian defender would be proud to do.

Central midfield was probably the hardest decision I had to make for the Premier League team. So many world class options, but in the end I opted for a duo that won more Premier League titles together than any other.

Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were the perfect blend of force, finesse, intensity and goal threat that you’d need in a side. Keane was a stud of a ball winner, but also had energy to go box-to-box, while Scholes was able to be a threat in the final third or dictate play from a deeper position if necessary.

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Bayern Munich v AC Milan : News Photo

For Serie A it’s a mixture of finesse and technique, as Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf reunite. The two played together for both Milan sides, but most notably in the red half for AC. Seedorf was the total package and could play any midfield role to perfection, much like Scholes, while Pirlo was more about keeping the ball moving and using his technique rather than physical attributes in comparison to Keane.

Attack for the Premier League was probably quite easy in the end. While some top stars missed out, there were no four players who deserved their spot more than these.

Recently retired Wayne Rooney was the ultimate number ten in the Premier League and to this day is the only player to have ever scored over 200 goals AND assisted over 100 goals. Around him, are the three of the best to ever touch the league. Cristiano Ronaldo started his career on the right but moved to the left and became a goalscoring demon before joining La Liga and eventually Serie A.

Manchester United v Arsenal : News Photo

His ability to go either way while also being a threat aerially and from range mean he can play anywhere along the front line and still produce, so he slots in there. On the left is arguably the most complete striker of his generation in Thierry Henry.

Normally I’d put Henry up front because that’s where he became Arsenal and France’s all-time top goalscorer from, but he had a preference of drifting out wide and using his lightning pace to get in behind defences. That also allows me to put Alan Shearer up front.

The all-time top goalscorer in the division with 260 goals, nobody has come close to matching that number. He holds almost all the goalscoring records you can think of in England’s top flight and in his prime, was one of the best strikers in the world.

For Serie A, the conversation is much the same. Two of Italy’s golden attackers of all-time will sit just behind the strikers, with Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti taking the creative mantles in the side. Agility, skill, vision, technique, power and finesse, between them they had it all.

Ahead of them are probably my two favourite strikers ever. Batigol, Gabriel Batistuta, who made a name for himself by trying to rip nets when he scored goals because of the pure power he could hit a ball with, had everything in his game to trouble a top defence on his own. Now pair him up with the GOAT, Ronaldo Nazario. El Fenomeno. R9.

The man was at his absolute best for Inter Milan during the 90’s before a knee injury took away his explosiveness. Even after that he scored goals for fun wherever he went and his inclusion was a no brainer.

Originally tweeted by إسحاق الهاشمي (@is7aqalhashmi) on September 16, 2018.

So who wins? It’s almost impossible to say. It would without a doubt be the best football match I’ve ever been able to see but I’d give the nod to Serie A – just. The complete football team.

England 02-06 vs Current England Squad

England’s ‘golden generation’ is said to be from World Cup 2002 up until their failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

Some world class footballers represented their nation during that period of time, but they failed to make it past a quarter-final stage of any major tournament during that time under Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

The current England side managed by Gareth Southgate finished fourth at their only World Cup together so far, finished third in the UEFA Nations League and are one of the favourites going into Euro 2020 next summer with a new golden generation on their way through the ranks.

So who would win if they were to face off in a one-off game today?

For the ‘golden generation’ the starting line-up essentially picked itself back then. There were the odd changes, with Sol Campbell involved at centre-back and left midfield often chopped and changed too. Central midfield had options like Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick and even Paul Scholes at one point all vying but it was Lampard and Gerrard who were more often than not selected together. A young, dynamic and fearless Wayne Rooney was up front alongside the legendary Michael Owen too to provide a huge goal threat.

These days, England’s biggest weakness is central midfield which was arguably the older teams’ greatest strength. The likes of Henderson and Winks have plenty of big-game experience, with Henderson having won the Premier League and Champions League in the last two years. Going forward, Harry Kane is on course to smash Wayne Rooney’s record as all-time top goalscorer for the national team, while Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho are among the best wide players in the game today. The depth in attack is fantastic too, with Marcus Rashford and youngsters such as Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood making the breakthrough to regulars in the international setup. Defensively though, they’re a shambles. Ben Chilwell is the only left-back with any shred of quality even close to being ready for international football at the moment, while Harry Maguire is a guaranteed starter despite his obvious flaws. At right-back, there is plenty of depth but only one man can play and Kyle Walker has proven to be the regular pick for Southgate, despite the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold over the last two-and-a-half years.

In goal, both sides have mediocre No.1’s with Paul Robinson and Jordan Pickford. Overall, both squads have holes but they’re very different.

The current side’s biggest issues are all personnel wise and just a lack of quality or experience for the level. The 02-08 sides biggest issues are the managers and formations deployed instead. In this day and age, it’s so difficult to play 442 without being overrun in midfield. Even with the lack of quality in the current England side, they would likely be able to hold onto the ball much better and look to cause problems with a sheer volume of control.

Defensively, individually, England’s defence was absolutely world-class and club partnerships were able to be re-made. Despite this, Robinson’s presence behind them was poor and the lack of midfield structure often saw them well beaten against the better sides.

It would be a fascinating tie in all honesty, with the pace and energy of the new school able to get at the 02-08 defence several times, but the sheer quality of the team back then would likely be able to edge a win. Wayne Rooney in that time period was one of the best footballers in the world and Michael Owen was lethal, while David Beckham was also at the peak of his powers.

When systems get cancelled out it tends to come down to the individual quality of the players on the pitch and for that reason I think the ‘golden generation’ would be able to scrape a win in a very tightly contested fixture.