Ashley Cole, currently a free agent, is highly regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation. Some critics even believe him to be the best left back in the world.
He last played for the Italian club Roma, but he started his career in 1999, with Arsenal. He would go on to make 228 appearances and score ten goals. With the team, he won two Premier League titles, and three FA Cups. During this 2003-2004 season, they went undefeated, and earned their nickname "The Invincibles."
In 2006, Cole transferred to rival club Chelsea. With the club, he went on to win even more honors, including the Premier League in the 2009-10 season, four FA Cups, one Football League Cup, and one UEFA Champions League. With seven winner's medals to his name, he's won the FA Cup more times than any other player in history. He is one of two players to have won the Double with two different clubs.
In 2010, he was voted England Player of the Year, and with 107, he's England's most capped full back.
Cole's style of play is incredibly impressive, as it's a combination of attack and support. During his youth he preferred scoring goals, but with age, he realized how much he grew to love defense. He modeled his game after Brazilian Roberto Carlos: "He's got natural talent, but I think if you train hard enough you can be nearly as good as that."
He defends because he has to, but players love being on Cole's team because as soon as you win the ball back, he's up there, ready to strike.
Cole's ability to just know where to go is respected among other players. It's almost a bit of a sixth sense to pop up wherever he is needed, seconds before it is obvious a player should be there. He is known for making timed goal-line clearances and getting the ball out of danger.
While the rumor is he has a mean strike and is a "dirty player," all of his former coaches deny it.
Cole announced his retirement from international play last year, but now he's planning what he'll do when he hangs up his cleats for good.
He wants to take off a year to travel the world, and then, more soccer. Except this time as a scout. He would love to find the "diamond in the rough."