Ashley Cole retires from football - a look back at an incredible career

Former Chelsea and Arsenal left back Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from professional football.

Cole, 38, announced his decision to say goodbye to the game on Sky Sports while appearing as a pundit ahead of his former side Chelsea’s Premier League clash against Leicester.

“After hard thinking and consideration it was time to hang my boots up and look towards my next chapter which will hopefully be coaching, I’m doing a course at the moment”

"As a young kid, I never expected to play one game or be a professional. Looking back, to be able to say I played in World Cups, Champions League finals, being lucky enough to lift Premier League titles - it's a young kid's dream.

"I fulfilled my dream and now I look to the future, hopefully as a great coach."

Cole, who last played for Derby under former teammate last season, has been without a club after leaving Pride Park following their Championship playoff final defeat in May.

The London-born star began his career with boyhood club Arsenal, making his debut in 1999 before signing his first professional contract in early 2000.

Following a brief loan spell at Crystal Palace, Cole went on to establish himself as Arsenal’s first choice left back by the time he was just 20.

Ashley Cole in action for Arsenal (Photo by Adam Davy/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Cole spent seven years in North London, winning two league titles in Arsenal colours, including as part of the historic ‘invincibles’ of 2003/04, who famously lifted the Premier League without losing a single league match.

He also won three FA Cups with the club, scoring a penalty in a shootout win against Manchester United in 2005.

However, following a bitter contract dispute, Cole was found guilty of illegally meeting with rivals Chelsea over a potential switch across London.

Eventually moving to Stamford Bridge in 2006, Cole went on to win another League title in 2010, along with four more FA Cups making him the most successful player in the competition’s long history.

As well as a League Cup and Europa League title, Cole’s crowning glory came in 2012 as part of the Blues’ side who famously beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League for the first time.

Ashley Cole played 107 times for England (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Regarded as the best player in his position in the world for much of his career, Cole also featured 107 times for England, putting at sixth on the all-time list of appearances for the Three Lions, playing at three World Cups and two European Championships.

After leaving Chelsea in the summer of 2014, Cole signed for Roma in Serie A but left 18 months later to join MLS side LA Galaxy.

Following three years in America, Cole returned to England last season to join midlands side Derby under Lampard as the Rams pushed for Premier League promotion.

Unfortunately, a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa at Wembley condemned the club to another season in the second tier.

The defeat would prove to be the last match of Cole’s storied career.