Of all the sports books I have read, one of the most disappointing was Ashley Cole’s “My Defence”. The reason was not that it was short on interesting details — but rather that Cole wrote a book about his life and then failed to update the public on what happened afterwards, leaving readers with more questions than answers.
The left-back’s memoir reveals details of his move from Arsenal to Chelsea — and how the former’s offer of 55,000 pounds per week enraged him. I commend Cole for his honesty on this, but I simply wish he had continued to be so open and honest after releasing the book.
“My Defence” was released before many of Cole’s scandals. In the years that followed, he was revealed to have cheated on his wife, Cheryl; accidentally shot a student at Chelsea’s training ground; and earned criticism for defending John Terry in his racism trial and labelling the FA a “bunch of tw*ts” for refuting his evidence.
Cole makes no secret of the fact that he is not particularly fond of the media, but after leaving football fans with a taste of how his mind works, he would have done well to continuously update us through the turbulent periods that followed his autobiography’s release.
Perhaps, if he had, Cole could have been better understood and he would not have been labelled as one of football’s pantomime villains.
Cole is undoubtedly one of the great full-backs of my generation and one of my favourite Chelsea players of all-time. However, his story (or lack thereof) is a reminder that powerful athletes need the media in order to help them get their narratives across to the public just as the media needs them in order to gain readership.