As Joe Cole completes his move away from Anfield, returning to his first club West Ham United on a free transfer, we take a look back at his Liverpool career.
Cole arrived at Liverpool from Chelsea in the summer of 2010 on a free transfer. His signing was engineered by then managing director Christian Purslow who made the Englishman the first arrival under new manager Roy Hodgson.
[sws_pullquote_right] I thought about the semi-final of the Champions League in 2005 when I ran on to the field and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I was thinking about playing in that atmosphere every week and that swung it for me.
— Cole on his decision to sign for Liverpool [/sws_pullquote_right]The image of Hodgson welcoming Cole while on the Swiss training camp perhaps embodies everything that was wrong with the Hicks and Gillett era of ownership at Liverpool FC. Especially once it emerged that Cole would be earning close to £100,000 per week on a four year contract.
If the signing of Cole epitomised the darkest days of Gillett and Hicks, his debut on the opening day of the season against Arsenal encapsulated what would become of his career at Anfield. Cole was red-carded for a lunge on Laurent Koscielny just before half-time.
His next home appearance saw him miss a penalty against Trabzonspor in the Europa League. He did though score the club’s fastest European goal, after just 27 seconds against Steaua Bucharest.
But that proved to be a false dawn and his first season at Liverpool was far from a success. Cole started 19 of Liverpool’s 54 games in all competitions.
The following summer, 2011, he was loaned to French side Lille. “All I need is playing time to find my best” he said of the move. He enjoyed success with Lille, scoring four goals and making 32 appearances.
After returning to Liverpool in the summer, Cole was described as having been signed for an “astronomical amount of money” by new manager Brendan Rodgers. A staggering £6m signing-on-fee has previously been denied by Liverpool.
Lille, along with QPR, Reading and West Ham showed interest in signing Cole but “financially it was not possible to save him,” Lille boss Rudi Garcia explained.
So Cole remained at Anfield as the summer transfer window closed and has been given brief chances by Rodgers. He was subbed against Gomel in a Europa qualifier after just 23 minutes when his hamstring went, and was subbed at half-time of the League Cup defeat to Swansea. Brief substitute appearances in League games saw him score in the 3-1 win at West Ham.
In total, Cole made 42 appearances for Liverpool, scoring five times.
* Stats and info sourced from LFCHistory.net.