Ashley Cole has been with the Blues on tour in Japan, explaining how much he ha enjoyed being back in the Chelsea family...

There comes a time in every footballer’s life when they decide it is time to retire.

Ashley Cole, a true English footballing legend, reached that verdict this summer nearly 20 years after making his professional debut, and off the back of a few months working under the guidance of Frank Lampard at Derby County.

Cole spent eight seasons as a Chelsea player before departing in 2014 but has stayed close to the club throughout that period. This week, he has been back with us as an ambassador, meeting thousands of fans in Japan and spending time with the squad and coaching staff on what he has found to be a hugely enjoyable trip.

‘It’s good being back in the Chelsea family,’ he smiles as he discusses his temporary role. ‘I’m buzzing to see Lamps get the job. To be around the guys has been great, and it’s nice to see Mason and Fikayo involved having played with them at Derby last year.

‘We have been reminiscing a bit, with Petr too, and it’s been a really good trip. I’ve been calling Lamps the gaffer, it’s only a couple of months since he was my boss but to me he’s Lamps again now!’

It has been eye-opening for the former left-back to see what happens on tour from a different perspective from that he is used to.

‘As a player I didn’t like pre-season at all but the lads have been working hard and look like they are enjoying themselves,’ he says.

‘When you’re a player you take a lot of things for granted so it’s been interesting to see the other side of things, from how the coaches prepare for sessions to what the club is doing off the pitch too. There’s a lot players don’t see, from things with the Foundation to sponsors events too and I’ve enjoyed meeting people.

‘It’s always nice to see the fans here. It’s crazy they still even remember me and want my picture and autograph. When you finish, you think you’re done, but they’ve been great, and you see how much they love Chelsea.’

‘Working with the Foundation and kids is nice, it’s great to give these people a bit back. They love the club and it’s great we can help them and help football here. Many will never get the chance to see Stamford Bridge so if we can come here and make the difference then we should do.’