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Rowdies’ Cole Announces Retirement

By Staff, 11/13/18, 9:00AM EST


Former England international made more than 700 appearances in career

Former England midfielder Joe Cole made almost 100 appearances for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in all competitions at the conclusion of a legendary career that spanned 20 year. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Joe Cole announced his retirement from professional soccer on Tuesday, bringing to a close a career that saw the 37-year-old make more than 700 appearances, including almost 100 in all competitions for the Rowdies.

“It has been a dream come true. All of it,” said Cole in a statement. “I hope the next two decades are as special as my last 20 years as a professional have been.”

Cole featured at three World Cups for England’s National Team in 2002, 2006 and 2010, won the Premier League three times with Chelsea FC as well as the F.A. Cup twice and the League Cup once. Since beginning his career with West Ham United at the age of 17 in 1998, Cole competed in top competitions across Europe, making more than 50 appearances in the UEFA Champions League.

In May 2016 Cole made the move to Tampa Bay, where he spent the final three seasons of his illustrious career. Over three seasons, Cole made 82 league appearances for the Rowdies and recorded 20 goals and 14 assists, and helped the side reach the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. Midway through the 2018 campaign he became an assistant coach to current Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins while remaining a regular in the Rowdies’ lineup as he made 30 appearances for the side.

Joe Cole’s Full Retirement Statement

After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. 716 professional games, 104 goals, for seven great clubs – West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille, Aston Villa, Coventry City and the Tampa Bay Rowdies – as well the honor of playing for England. It has been a dream come true. All of it.

There are key moments in every professional’s career. One of mine came when I was a young West Ham player. A senior pro, who was nearing his own retirement, said to me: 'Enjoy every game, young man. It goes by in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it badly after it’s gone.” He was right. Those words resonate even more now than they did back then. I tried to play and live by his advice every single day because being a professional footballer is an absolute honor.

Countless people have helped me through my career. I don’t want to single anyone out individually for fear of overlooking someone else! Simply, to the managers, coaches, back room staff and everyone who has helped me along the way: thank you.

My favorite thing about being a professional footballer was the feeling you enjoy after coming back into the dressing room after a win. It will be difficult to replicate that but I’ll always remember all of my former teammates who I shared that experience with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played with some of the very best players of my era and even more fortunate to call a lot of them friends.

As a fan, I loved watching wholehearted, skillful players and this is what inspired me. I remembered what was special for me when I was sitting in the stands watching games and I tried to replicate this. I hope I was able to do this for some of the fans and people who have watched my games over the years.

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