West Ham old boy Joe Cole has made a shock move to League One side Coventry City.
The 33-year-old midfielder has signed a month’s loan at the Sky Blues from parent club Aston Villa, after expressing his need for game time.
The former England star signed for Villa on a free transfer in 2014, but has barely been used by current manager Tim Sherwood.
Cole told the Coventry Telegraph: “Primarily it’s about playing football. I want to compete on a Tuesday and Saturday and play proper football with people trying to kick me.
“You are a long time retired in this game and it doesn’t matter what your name is or what you’ve done in the game, when you step out there and are playing football against other players that’s all that matters. And I just wanted the buzz of playing again.
“You can’t stay at the top forever. I am not saying I won’t play back at the top level. I just love playing football and the day I don’t will be the day I pack it in.
“I might hit the ground running and be brilliant at Rochdale. But even though I’ve played Premier League and this is League One, I might need to blow away the cobwebs to get that match fitness. I’m here for 35 days and I need to influence the games and we’ll assess it after that.”
As part of the famous early-2000s crop of youngsters at West Ham, which included Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard, Cole was soon seen as the creative attacking force of England’s Golden Generation. Newham had its own Maradonna.
While it never quite worked out that way for Cole – his creative talents stifled for much of his career being shoved out on the wing – he still boasts three Premier League titles, two FA Cups and has played in three World Cups, gaining more than a half-century of caps for England.
Cole also enjoyed an oft-forgotten second spell in east London. His efforts in the 2013-14 season saw him hold down a regular place in the Irons’ side, netting a respectable five goals.