Last night saw the announcement by 100+ capped England defender Ashley Cole that he was to retire from international football.
It’s good timing from Cole; he is battling for a place in the starting line up against Everton’s Leighton Baines and for a place in the squad against Southampton’s prodigy Luke Shaw.
All three at their peak would be viable selections, but Baines and Shaw have excelled while Cole has not looked his best and is set to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract this summer.
Now my own personal feelings about Cole aside, I’m not a fan of the man but am of the player, his decision not to feature anymore struck of “I’m not picked so I won’t play anymore!!” It’s a shame that an England international, Champions League and Premier League winner should take such an attitude – but I guess it summarises the man.
I’ve always disagreed with the concept of retiring from international duty. You do not retire, you stop getting selected. The England team has been hit in the past by the retirement of players who were still well within their prime: Shearer, Scholes, Lineker. Only in the case of Lineker being replaced by Shearer was there a natural replacement. Since Shearer, England has had Michael Owen who did a great job for a while as England’s main striker. Since then the mantle has been picked up by Peter Crouch, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck, all aided by the only man who seems to care, Wayne Rooney.
So Cole has left at a time when there were natural replacements, and given Head Coach Roy Hodgson an easier time by not having to choose him. But the better attitude to this would have been to have called Hodgson and said “if you want to take the other two, do it as they are in better form, but I’m here if you need me.” Instead he’s decided to cut his nose off to spite his face and ruled himself out of contention. Sheer class Ashley.
It’s my view that you don’t retire from international duty, you just don’t get picked because there is a better option. Unfortunately some footballers don’t see that my way.