A month after achieving one
great European ambition with his club, Ashley Cole will seek to
move within reach of a similar goal with his country when
England face Italy in their Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev on
The 31-year-old left-back, playing in his fourth major
tournament quarter-final, will make his 98th appearance for his
country and believes Roy Hodgson's team have the potential to
enable him to earn his 100th cap in the final on July 1.
England's most-capped full-back lies sixth in the overall
list for international appearances behind five former captains,
goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore
(108), Bobby Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105).
First, however, Cole has to end his own last-eight jinx by
playing in a winning England team in a quarter-final for the
A regular member of the England side for a decade, he was in
the teams that bowed out in the last eight of the 2004 European
Championship, when they lost to hosts Portugal on penalties, and
in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup quarter-finals when they lost
Brazil and Portugal, the latter on penalties.
But after winning the Champions League with Chelsea on May
19, when defensive resilience and team spirit enabled them to
overcome Bayern Munich, Cole believes similar attributes can
carry England to a last-four meeting with Germany.
"This is my fourth quarter-final and I have bad memories of
the others," he told the BBC. "So, I want to look back at those
and think about what I did and what could help me for this one.
"It is a different game against a great team, but the
spirits are high and the lads are buzzing for the game. I am
confident. We know it will be a tough game, but they say dreams
come true and hopefully this can be one of my dreams."
Despite periods when intense tabloid attention to his
private life may have affected him, Cole has always been one of
England's most consistent performers.
His form for club and country established him as one of the
outstanding left-backs in the world and an automatic choice for
many people's world XI.
His athleticism, technical ability and speed were
outstanding at Euro 2004 when, in a tense and dramatic
quarter-final against Portugal, he succeeded in quelling the
threat of Cristiano Ronaldo and initiating many attacks.
The same qualities shone through in his performances last
season for Chelsea as they battled through against the odds to
claim the European Cup.
"With most English lads - and you can see it in this team -
we're like 11 bulldogs who will never give up, who will always
work for each other and basically die on the pitch for each
other," said Cole. "So far, it seems to be working."
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