After Ashley Cole became the latest inductee into the Premier League Hall of Fame, we look at why his Chelsea career is deserving of a place among the elite of the English game.

The Premier League considers its Hall of Fame as the highest honour it can bestow on players and managers who have left their mark on the competition since it began in 1992, with Chelsea legends Petr Cech, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard already being added to its illustrious ranks, before being joined by Ashley Cole today.

After arriving from Arsenal in 2006, Ashley Cole made 338 appearances during his eight-year Chelsea career, proving himself to be one of the greatest to have represented the club with his massive contribution to the most successful period in our history.

He came to epitomise the modern full-back in the Premier League. During his time at Chelsea, the ever-improving Cole developed the defensive steel to go with the attacking talents he had shown at Arsenal and his natural ability to read the game, becoming a complete footballer.

The statistics speak for themselves. He created an impressive 200 chances for team-mates in 229 Premier League games for Chelsea, while in the competition as a whole Ashley managed 147 clean sheets and maintained a tackle success rate of 74 per cent. Of his 385 matches in the English top flight, just 14 per cent ended in defeat.

Carlo Ancelotti has managed some of the greatest defenders of all time during his spells at Chelsea, AC Milan and Real Madrid, and was in no doubt where Cole sat among them, comparing him to a legend of the Italian game and an Olympic gold medallist.

‘Everyone can see that Ashley Cole is the best left-back in the world,’ said Ancelotti during his time with the Blues.

‘He played with extraordinary quality for us, both defensively and when scoring goals and making assists. And he can run for much more than 90 minutes, his endurance is really fantastic – he is like the great Sebastian Coe.

‘Cole and [Paolo] Maldini are different players because they have different bodies and different skills but professionally and in terms of personality they are the same. They have the same passion for the job.

‘He is highly motivated, a very good player and a very good professional. I think everyone who appreciates football should appreciate him because he is also a very fair player. He never shouts at referees or makes bad tackles on opponents. On the pitch, he is an example.’

Perhaps the only thing that could have been said to be missing from his game was goals, but even then his best tally for a season of four in 2009/10 was a decent return for a defender.

His skilful strike against Sunderland was even voted as Chelsea's Goal of the Season, and his volley to complete the 8-0 win over Wigan which sealed the title on the last day wasn’t bad either!

That 2009/10 campaign provided his only Premier League winner’s medal with the Blues, surely less than he deserved. It also made him one of only two players to have won the Premier League and FA Cup Double with more than one club, alongside Chelsea and Arsenal team-mate Nicolas Anelka.

To be the best you have to perform against the best, and that was a test Cole passed with flying colours. In the words of Brazil great Ronaldinho: ‘Cole is a fantastic defender, I have seen him keep the best players in the world quiet.’

The left-back’s duels with then-Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo were one of the defining images of the Premier League during Ash’s early years at Chelsea. Cole’s brilliant shackling of the Red Devils’ danger man at Old Trafford in November 2006 was a masterclass in one-on-one defending.

The England international continued to have the upper hand over the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the Premier League, as well as famous clashes at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, leading Ronaldo to name Cole as the toughest opponent he has faced.

‘Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,’ he explained. ‘He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.’

Ash’s Chelsea team-mate John Mikel Obi summed it up simply when asked about his own experiences of facing Cristiano Ronaldo: ‘We were never worried. When we played against Man United, we knew Ashley Cole would deal with Cristiano Ronaldo.’

Although Cole’s place in the Hall of Fame was secured with his Premier League performances, it is impossible to recall his time at Chelsea without arguably his greatest achievement at Stamford Bridge – helping us to lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in 2012.

That triumphant campaign showed Ash at his best, from his vital goal-line clearances in the comeback win over Napoli and again against Barcelona in the semi-finals, his continued nullifying of Lionel Messi – the Argentine failed to find the net in any of his six appearances against Cole’s Chelsea, but got three goals in two games against us since the defender’s departure – to scoring our fourth in the penalty shootout win over Bayern Munich in the final.

‘Ashley is the best left-back England have ever had,’ said Frank Lampard, who captained Chelsea that night in Germany. ‘I have seen him go toe-to-toe with the best names in the game and have never seen anyone get the better of him. Not Lionel Messi, not Cristiano Ronaldo, not anybody.

‘He was the best left-back in England for years and to maintain those high standards over a decade is testimony to his skill and dedication. I remember him starting off as a youngster at Arsenal, racing up and down the left. You could see he was special even then and he has maintained that level of performance for so long.

‘Of course he is blessed with great pace but it’s not his pace alone that makes him so special. He is also incredibly fit, he can go on all day. But his greatest asset is his game awareness, the ability to anticipate what’s about to happen. Ash has got the lot.’

Certainly, those who played with and against Cole have no doubts he deserves his place among the greats – underlined by his four inclusions in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, two Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year awards, and now a spot in the Premier League Hall of Fame.