COLE: OUR TIME

Posted on: Sat 23 Jun 2012

Ashley Cole became England's most capped tournament player after appearing in the 1-0 victory over Ukraine on Tuesday night, and with 97 caps to his name for the national side, he is hoping to hit the 100-mark in the final of Euro 2012.

Having previously represented his country at four major competitions - three World Cups and one European Championships - Cole has never come close to achieving glory for a success-starved nation.

The last time England reached the quarter-finals of the Euros, back in 2004, they were cruelly eliminated by Portugal on penalties, while in 2008, under the stewardship of Steve McClaren, they failed to even qualify, and Cole believes the time has come to put that right.

'There is unfinished business,' he told BBC Sport. 'I have been lucky enough to play 97 times for England and hopefully I will get 100 in the final.

'I have never had the joy of winning for my country and I am not getting too far ahead of myself or the team, but so far it is going well.

'This is my fourth quarter-final now and I have bad memories of the others, so I want to look back at those and think about what I did and what could help me for this one.'

Cole, arguably one of the greatest left-backs to play the game, has enjoyed an incredible career. A regular at club level for both Chelsea and Arsenal, with a glittering array of honours to his name, he has been a permanent fixture in the England side since making his international debut back in 2001 during a World Cup qualifier in Albania.

Experienced, composed and mature, there is little doubt that he will be one of the players Roy Hodgson looks to as England prepare for a mouthwatering clash against a vastly experienced Italy side, but the 31-year-old has seen enough quality among his teammates already to believe this could be their time.

'It [Sunday's game] is a different game against a great team but the spirits are high and the lads are buzzing for the game, I am confident,' he stressed.

'We know it will be a tough game on Sunday, but they say dreams come true and hopefully this can be one of my dreams.

'We are like 11 bulldogs who never give up and basically will die on the pitch for each other. So far it seems to be working.'

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's game, manager Roy Hodgson deserves a great deal of credit for the manner in which he has brought a depleted squad together in such a short space of time.

The team spirit and togetherness, so clearly lacking at the 2010 World Cup, has been evident for all to see, and results, if not performances, have been impressive.

Captain Steven Gerrard has been receiving all the plaudits after a string of quality performances, and quite rightly given the fact the midfielder has laid on three of England's five goals, but Cole was eager to praise the contribution of his sole Chelsea teammate in the squad, John Terry, following three typically heroic displays in the group stages by the Blues' skipper.

'He has been a great servant for Chelsea and whatever has gone on in his life he has always put that to the back of his mind and done his job in a very professional way,' Cole argued.

'When it comes down to it, he would put his body on the line for any team and any players who he plays with, and he is a joy to play with.'