Ashley Cole (born 20th December 1980, Whitechapel, England) is an English footballer of Barbadian descent. Cole plays left back for Chelsea and for the England national team, a position from which he often uses his strong pace to try and support the forward players.
Cole started his career at his local club Arsenal as a teenager. He signed as a professional on 25 February 2000. He had made his debut for the first team as a striker on 30 November 1999 against Middlesbrough at the age of 18, although this was his only appearance of that season. Before he fully broke into the Arsenal side, he spent part of the 1999–2000 season on loan at Crystal Palace, where he played 14 league matches and scored one goal, a long-range half-volley against Blackburn Rovers. After an injury to Silvinho, Arsenal's established Brazilian left-back, in autumn 2000, Cole came on as his replacement, and remained first-choice even after Silvinho's recovery.
With Arsenal, he won the Premier League twice (in 2002 and 2004), and the FA Cup three times (in 2002, 2003 and 2005). Although injured for much of the 2005-06 season, he recovered in time to play in Arsenal's UEFA Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona at the end of the season. In total he made 228 first-team appearances for Arsenal, scoring 9 goals.
In 2005, Cole made inappropriate contact with league rivals Chelsea over a possible move, without alerting Arsenal to the fact, in a case of "tapping-up". Found guilty, he was fined £100,000 by the Premier League on 2 June 2005 for a meeting in a hotel in January 2005 between himself, the Chelsea manager José Mourinho, Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, and his agent Jonathan Barnett. An appeal in August 2005 did not reject the guilty verdict, but his fine was reduced to £75,000. Chelsea were also fined £300,000 and Mourinho was fined £200,000, reduced on appeal in August 2005 to £75,000. Barnett's license was suspended for 18 months and he was also fined £100,000.
On 31 January 2007, Cole suffered a serious knee injury in the 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, although after a scan it was revealed to be not as bad as first thought, with Chelsea optimistic that he would return before the end of the 2006-07 season. Cole did indeed make a return at the end of the season, playing in the last twelve minutes of the 2007 FA Cup Final at the new Wembley Stadium, against Manchester United.
In 2005 he became engaged to Cheryl Tweedy, a member of the British chart-topping act Girls Aloud. He and Tweedy were married at Wrotham Park, just north of Barnet, Hertfordshire on 15 July 2006.