Ashley Cole isn’t coming to Los Angeles for the sunshine and the beaches.
The Champions League winner is heading to StubHub Center determined to win trophies with the LA Galaxy.
Cole was officially announced by the Galaxy on Wednesday after an accomplished 18-year career in Europe that included stops at Arsenal, Chelsea and AS Roma. The 35-year-old left back joins the Galaxy after a pair of disappointing years with the Italian club that saw him make only 11 appearances.
The veteran defender is aware of the negativity surrounding his move to MLS and is determined to prove himself in Los Angeles.
“Hopefully, the LA fans will warm up to me,” Cole told LA Galaxy Insider. "I know that it won’t be easy at the start, of course, but if I can just prove to them that I’m not here for a holiday, I’m here to work. I’m here to win things.
“I know that I’m 35, I’m not 21 anymore, so I have to understand that my body is not how it was years ago. I stay fit as much I can. I train as hard as I can, and I hope that I can bring trophies to the team. I hope to do that. In terms of proving people wrong, I’ve done that my entire career. I’ve always wanted to prove to people that I can play."
Cole joins a club loaded with familiar faces including longtime international teammate Steven Gerrard and former rival Robbie Keane. Prior to his move to the Galaxy, Cole reached out to Gerrard and Keane about the rigors of Major League Soccer, and even attended LA’s victory over the Philadelphia Union last June.
Both players informed the veteran left back about the league’s unique challenges, but Cole is optimistic that he can transition to MLS far quicker than he did at Roma.
“I’ve spoken to Bruce Arena and he told me that league is hectic, that it’s a tough league and a demanding league. Robbie and Stevie told me the same. They told me that you have to be 100 percent honest when it comes to fitness and physicality, but hopefully I can transition quicker than I did at Roma,” Cole said. “It took me a little bit longer than I thought it would, but I hope that the club and the fans will stick by me more than they did in Italy. I hope that the transition can be a little bit easier.
“I’ve worked out every day and that helped me motivate myself to train because I knew at the end of the season, I was going to leave. I wanted to stay as fit as I could, I’m good shape considering that I haven’t played. I can’t wait to train with the guys.”
Cole is scheduled to join the Galaxy next week, and could play his first preseason match for the club on Feb. 9 against Club Tijuana. The accomplished defender knows that he’ll come under plenty of scrutiny once he arrives in Los Angeles, but Cole is not shying away from the challenge that lays ahead.
“I know that I have a lot to prove. I know that people have doubts about me because of my age and because I haven’t played in a long time,” Cole said. “It’s a motivation and it drives me to prove people wrong, and to remind myself that I can still play at a top level.”