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Thursday 13 December 2018

Hazard's tribute to Cole

Joe Cole has announced his end to playing
Joe Cole has announced his end to playing

Joe Cole has announced his retirement, with Eden Hazard leading the tributes to the former England, West Ham and Chelsea midfielder.

Cole, 37, made 716 professional appearances and scored 104 goals for seven clubs, completing his career with Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United Soccer League. He now wishes to pursue a career as a coach.

He made 56 England appearances, appearing in three World Cup tournaments, after making his debut aged 19 following an impressive start to his career at West Ham.

Cole played with Hazard while on loan at Lille from Liverpool in 2011-12, the Belgium playmaker's final season at the Ligue 1 club before he moved to Stamford Bridge. Cole made more than 280 appearances for Chelsea over seven years.

Hazard said on Chelsea's official Twitter account: "I spoke to him before I signed for Chelsea. Every day, seriously, he was telling me that Chelsea was the best club for me."

Cole said in a statement yesterday: "After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. It has been a dream come true. All of it."

Cole, a lifelong Chelsea supporter, joined West Ham at the age of eight and made 187 appearances, scoring 18 goals, in two spells, from 1998 to 2003 and 2013-14.

He made his debut as a 17-year-old in January 1999, graduating to become captain and leaving for Chelsea only after the Hammers' relegation from the Premier League.

Cole won every domestic honour during his time at Chelsea, claiming three Premier League titles, two FA Cups and League Cup before seeing service at Liverpool, Lille (on loan), West Ham, Aston Villa, Coventry and finally the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the US.

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