LONDON – Former England midfielder Joe Cole announced his retirement on Tuesday after making more than 700 appearances for seven clubs, including West Ham and Chelsea.
Cole, who turned 37 last week, said his career had been “a dream come true”, and he now hopes to move into coaching.
His final club was Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United Soccer League, the second tier in the US.
Cole made 716 professional appearances, scoring 104 goals for seven clubs, and his 56 England caps spanned across three World Cup tournaments.
He made his international debut aged 19, when he was earmarked as one of England’s brightest young talents at the Hammers.
Cole was part of England’s so-called “Golden Generation”, playing alongside David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, plus his Chelsea teammates John Terry and Frank Lampard.
Cole said in a statement: “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.
“Whatever is next, I hope the next two decades are as special as my last 20 years as a professional have been.”
Cole joined West Ham aged eight and made 187 appearances, scoring 18 goals, in two spells with the club, from 1998 to 2003 and 2013/14.
He burst on to the scene aged 17 in January 1999, and quickly became captain. He only left for Chelsea after the Hammers’ relegation from the Premier League.
In honour of his birthday, sit back and enjoy every Joe Cole goal for West Ham. A 🎁 for everyone! https://t.co/NcmzvZOTeZ— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) November 8, 2018
Cole helped Chelsea win their first championship in 50 years in 2004/05 under Jose Mourinho.
He was less fortunate in European competitions – he was in the Chelsea side beaten by Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 Champions League final.
The appearances dried up when he joined Liverpool as he played just 42 times in two-and-a-half years. He was loaned to French Ligue 1 side Lille in 2011/2012.
He added: “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played with some of the very best players of my era, and even more fortunate to call a lot of them friends.
Thanks for the memories, Joe Cole! 💙 pic.twitter.com/BeP7INHZAM— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 13, 2018
“Winning trophies at Chelsea was particularly special for me. Those memories will live with me forever, as will the chance I had to share them with my family.
“Looking to the future, I want to stay involved in the game. I feel I can offer a lot as a coach.”AFP