SIR ALEX FERGUSON tried every trick in the book to sign Joe Cole early in the player’s career, Harry Redknapp has revealed.
Cole, 37, announced his retirement from football today following a career at West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Coventry and Tampa Bay Rowdies.
But before he’d even played a senior game, on the books of West Ham under Harry Redknapp, Fergie tried and failed to bring him to Manchester United.
“‘This is what your shirt will look like when you play for Manchester United,’ read the message. Alex was desperate to get him.
“He even invited him to travel on the team bus when United got to an FA Cup Final.
He could have been England's Zidane
By MARK FLEMING
JOE Cole has earned a special place in the hearts of West Ham, Chelsea and England fans.
His God-given talent shone through, and he was so obviously mad about playing football.
But despite the Premier League titles and 56 England caps, there remains a nagging feeling he didn’t quite deliver on his potential.
He was rarely first choice in Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Chelsea team.
And he played mostly on the wing for England, to accommodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the middle.
Arguably, had he more talent than both of them.
And had he delivered on that, today we would be hailing him as England’s Zidane.
“Arsenal were into him, Chelsea were into him, but I knew Joe was happiest playing for West Ham. So I gave him space.
“When George [Joe’s dad] said Joe had been invited up to train for two weeks at Manchester United, I let him go.
I spoke to him before I signed for Chelsea. Every day, seriously, he was telling me that Chelsea was the best club for me. He said Chelsea was a big club where you can win trophies every season. For that reason I signed, so thank you, Joe Cole!
Eden Hazard on Joe Cole
“I could have got annoyed, said that he had signed schoolboy forms with us and threatened to report United, but what good would that have done?”
Redknapp went on to explain he had faith Cole would want to return to East London, even after the experience.
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He added: “It would just have antagonised George and we’d lost the player.
“‘Great, George,’ I told him. ‘Let Joe go, let him have a look around, but never forget, we’d love him here.
“‘He’s going to be in the first team in no time, you know. But Manchester United? What a great experience. Tell him to enjoy himself.’
“So we’d lose Joe for two weeks, but he wouldn’t have as much fun as he did at West Ham where he knew everybody and got on with all the boys, so he’d come back more in love with our place than ever.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea star Eden Hazard has revealed Joe Cole was the reason he signed for the Blues.