Posted on: Thu 05 Oct 2006

Chelsea's transfer deadline day signing of Ashley Cole takes the number of England players in the current squad to six.


The 25 year-old international left-back is a product of the Arsenal youth system. Born in east London, he made his debut for the Gunners in the Worthington Cup at the age of 18.


He spent a three-month loan period at Crystal Palace at the end of the 1999/2000 season, making 14 appearances and scoring one goal. His progress was rewarded with his first Arsenal Premiership appearance in the final league game of the same season.


By the end of the following campaign, Cole had taken over as first choice left-back from Brazilian Silvinho and the next season was handed his first winners' medals as Arsenal secured the Premiership and FA Cup double. He played all 90 minutes of Chelsea's 2-0 defeat by our London rivals in the Cup Final in Cardiff and made a total of 33 appearances in the two victorious competitions.


Cole was to taste the other side of a Chelsea v Arsenal result when on the losing side in our famous Champions League triumph at Highbury in April 2004, but by then the player had won a second FA Cup Final, in 2003 against Southampton. He was also well on the way to his second Premiership title (playing 32 times in Arsenal's unbeaten league season of 2003/4) and had become an England international.


Having played for England at youth and Under 21 levels, Cole was named in Sven-Göran Eriksson's first squad and made his full international debut against Albania in March 2001. He played all five England games at the World Cup in 2002 and for many people, was one of his nation's star performers during Euro 2004 in Portugal. He was named in the all-star squad for the tournament. In total Cole has 52 caps for England.


A third FA Cup win was added in 2005, Cole scoring in the deciding penalty shoot-out against Man United. Although last season he was hampered by three separate injuries that saw him play only one game in seven months, he recovered to start Arsenal's Champions League Final defeat by Barcelona and was an ever-present in England's run to the World Cup quarter-finals.


His athletic goal-line clearance against Ecuador is one of the enduring images of a low-key England campaign.


In the summer, Cole moved from the newspaper back pages to the front one when he married Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy.


He played 156 games for Arsenal, scoring eight goals but has not played so far this season so will be eligible for Chelsea's Champions League campaign.


He is now with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips, preparing for England's game with Andorra on Saturday. Joe Cole is recovering from a knee injury suffered in the States.