Cole, who came up through the academy at West Ham, made his senior debut for the Hammers as a 17-year-old back in 1999 during an FA Cup third round clash with Swansea City under then manager Harry Redknapp.
The midfielder was regarded as a monumental prospect during his formative years in east London with Manchester United even willing to pay £10m for his services as a 16-year-old, but Cole opted against leaving his boyhood club.
The Englishman was a central figure at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea won back-to-back Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho and went on to win the League Cup, FA Cup and Community Shield, before winning the domestic double under Carlo Ancelotti at the end of the 2009/10 season.
Cole, who was named Chelsea’s player of the year in 2007/08, will always be remembered for his stunning goal against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge that secured the league title for Chelsea in 2005/06.
After spending seven seasons under several managers at Chelsea, Cole made the switch to Anfield and became Roy Hodgson’s first signing on Merseyside as Liverpool aimed to embark on a new adventure. However, his tenure was not fruitful as he was loaned out to Lille before securing a return to West Ham in 2013.
Several injuries took a serious toll on the Englishman as he failed to replicate the kind of form that had drawn comparisons with Paul Gascoigne in the past and he moved on to Aston Villa and later to Coventry City in League One, before making the switch to the USA with Tampa Bay Rowdies, his final club side.
Cole played alongside a host of famous and not so famous names during his playing career. We take a look at 15 players you may not know Cole laced up his boots with.
1) Davor Suker – West Ham (2000/01)
Davor Suker will not have a lot of good memories in London, especially at West Ham after making the switch from Arsenal in 2000. The Croatian, who was a household name back in his homeland and Spain, struggled to adapt to the Premier League towards the end of his career. Suker spent the second of his two seasons in England with West Ham and never really enjoyed an extended run in the starting eleven.
However, Suker played alongside a young and effervescent Cole in east London during his time with West Ham and they enjoyed their first start together during the 2-2 draw against Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground.
Cole went from strength to strength as the season progressed, but Suker struggled to nail down a position in the team and moved to 1860 Munich after the end of the campaign.
2) Frederic Kanoute – West Ham (2000-03)
Frederic Kanoute arrived in east London in 2000 and netted 11 goals during his debut season with West Ham under Harry Redknapp. The Frenchman, who made his first start alongside Cole during a 1-0 defeat to Spurs at White Hart Lane, spent three seasons with the Hammers before leaving the club in 2003.
Kanoute followed Cole on his way to the exit door after West Ham were relegated in 2003 as the duo opted to remain in London by joining Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea respectively. The Frenchman scored 27 goals in the Premier League for West Ham, but was in the firing line for his laid back attitude.
3) Lee Bowyer – West Ham (2003)
Lee Bowyer was not a popular figure at West Ham by any stretch of the imagination during his six-month-long tenure with the Hammers in 2003. The Englishman made the switch to east London during the winter transfer break when he joined on an initial six-month deal that would be made permanent if West Ham were to survive relegation.
However, the signing was greeted with discomfort as some fans questioned his attitude and even staged a protest outside the stadium ahead of his introduction as a West Ham player. Bowyer made his debut alongside Cole during the 2-2 draw against Newcastle United at the Boleyn Ground, but was restricted to just 11 appearances due to an ankle problem.
Furthermore, West Ham were relegated and Bowyer, who failed to get an extension as a result of it, moved to Newcastle United on a free transfer.
4) Les Ferdinand – West Ham (2003)
Les Ferdinand joined West Ham from rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2003 during the January transfer window as the Hammers prepared to fight it out in a relegation scrap. The striker made 14 appearances and played alongside Cole during his time in east London, but failed to save West Ham from relegation to the Championship.
Ferdinand moved to Leicester City after the Hammers dropped down to the second-tier, while Cole was rewarded with a move to west London with Chelsea, that would result in a memorable seven-season-long association with the Premier League giants.
5) Maniche – Chelsea (2006)
Maniche joined Chelsea on a six-month loan deal from Dynamo Moscow in January 2006 after struggling to adapt to life in Russia following his move from FC Porto.
However, the Portuguese had to compete with Michael Essien, Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard for a position in midfield and did not come out on top, falling short of the number of appearances required for a Premier League medal as Chelsea went on to win the league title.
The midfielder’s only start alongside Cole in a Chelsea shirt came during the final game of the season when Chelsea succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Chelsea opted against offering a permanent deal to Maniche and he returned to Dynamo Moscow before signing for Atletico Madrid.
6) Sotirios Kyrgiakos – Liverpool (2010/11)
Sotirios Kyrgiakos arrived on Merseyside in 2009 and was in his second season at Anfield when Cole landed as Roy Hodgson’s first ever signing at Liverpool. Despite being marred by a few injuries that season, Cole ended up making more appearances than Kyrgiakos for the Reds during the 2010/11 campaign.
The duo played together just for a year as Kyrgiakos made the switch to the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg in 2011, where he spent a season before returning to the Premier League on loan with Sunderland. However, his career proved to be short-lived from there on as he decided to hang up his boots at Sydney Olympic in 2014.
7) Christian Poulsen – Liverpool (2010/11)
Christian Poulsen joined Liverpool in 2010 after signing from Juventus for a reported £4.5m fee during the summer transfer window. Despite making 22 appearances for the club during his only season at Anfield, Poulsen was far from being a popular figure at the club.
The Dane made his debut for the club when he lined up alongside Cole during a Europa League qualifying game against Trabzonspor in which he had a goal disallowed.
Poulsen earned plaudits for a number of performances from Kenny Dalglish, who replaced Roy Hodgson that season, but fell out of favour eventually before making the switch to Evian in Ligue 1.
8) Idrissa Gueye – Lille (2011/12)
Idrissa Gueye came up through the ranks at Lille after joining the Ligue 1 outfit from Diambars in 2008. The midfielder was promoted to the senior side in 2010 and played alongside Cole during the 2011/12 season when he was on loan at Lille from Liverpool.
Cole enjoyed a productive season in Ligue 1 where he made 43 appearances across all competitions, nine more than Gueye managed throughout the campaign, as Lille finished third under Rudi Garcia. Gueye remained at the club until 2015, but Cole was recalled to Brendan Rodgers’ side for Liverpool’s pre-season preparations after his successful stint in France.
Gueye joined Aston Villa in 2015, coincidentally during Cole’s stint with the Villans, but the duo never took to the field at the same time despite being in the same squad.
9) Antonio Nocerino – West Ham (2013/14)
Antonio Nocerino secured a move away from Italy in January 2014 when he joined West Ham on a six-month loan deal from AC Milan. The midfielder made just 10 appearances for the club during his time in east London and played alongside Cole, who had returned to his boyhood club for a second spell that season.
The Italian returned to AC Milan at the end of the season and was loaned out to Torino and Parma before he joined Orlando City. Nocerino, who was without a contract in the summer, joined Serie B outfit Benevento earlier this season and is still plying his trade in Italy’s second-tier.
10) Joe Bennett – Aston Villa (2015/16)
Joe Bennett joined Aston Villa in the summer of 2012 and played alongside Cole just once in a memorable night. Bennett came on as a substitute against Notts County in the EFL Cup and scored his first and only goal for the club in extra-time during a dramatic 5-3 win for the Villans.
Cole replaced Adama Traore in the 60th minute before Bennett made a late cameo appearance off the bench in the 100th minute of a game that had entered extra-time after the teams were inseparable at 3-3 after normal time. It remains the only outing where the duo played together as Bennett moved to Cardiff in 2016 after Cole had dropped down to League One with Coventry City.
11) James Maddison – Coventry City (2015/16)
James Maddison started his career at Coventry City and was awaiting his big break by the time Cole arrived in the west Midlands, initially on loan before making the move permanent, from Aston Villa. The duo played together under then manager Tony Mowbray as they finished eighth in League One before Maddison, who was on loan at Coventry after signing for Norwich City in February, left to join the Canaries.
Maddison would spend his time learning the tricks of the trade at Aberdeen in the following season while Cole moved to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
12) Jacob Murphy – Coventry City (2015/16)
Jacob Murphy spent a successful season on loan at Coventry City from Norwich City during the 2015/16 League One campaign in which he lined up alongside Cole on numerous occasions. The winger featured regularly under Tony Mowbray and made 43 appearances across all competitions for Coventry that season, which was almost double the number of games Cole played during that term.
Due to his eye-catching form, Murphy was recalled by the Canaries and he scored 10 goals in his first full season with Norwich before securing a move to Newcastle United in 2017.
13) Ryan Kent – Coventry City (2015/16)
Ryan Kent came up through the ranks at Liverpool and secured a loan move to Coventry City in 2015 after impressing during Liverpool’s pre-season preparations in Asia.
The winger spent the first half of the 2015/16 campaign on loan at the Ricoh Arena before being recalled by Jurgen Klopp in January, when he was handed a first team debut for the Reds in the FA Cup.
Despite his short-stint with Coventry in League One, Kent made 17 appearances while playing alongside Cole, who had also arrived on loan. Kent moved to Barnsley on loan before enjoying similar stints with Freiburg in Germany and Bristol City, and is currently under the tutelage of Cole’s former team-mate for club and country, Steven Gerrard, at Rangers.
14) Sam Ricketts – Coventry City (2015/16)
Sam Ricketts was another player who played alongside Cole when he dropped down to League One with Coventry City. The defender was named captain under Tony Mowbray at Coventry after he signed from Wolves in the summer. Ricketts made 46 appearances for the Sky Blues during the 2015/16 season and remained at the club even after Cole made the switch to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
However, Ricketts was forced to retire from professional football after a knee injury in 2016 and is currently in charge of League One side Shrewsbury Town.
15) Freddy Adu – Tampa Bay Rowdies (2016)
Freddy Adu grabbed the headlines when he became the youngest American ever to sign a major league professional contract in any team sport when he joined DC United as a 14-year-old in 2004. The forward also became the youngest player to score in the MLS when he netted his first goal for DC United against MetroStars later that season.
Despite being touted as the next big thing in football, Adu did not live up to the expectations and failed to kick on after disappointing at a host of clubs, including Benfica and Monaco. Adu joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies and played alongside Cole in 2016 before being released at the end of the season.
Adu returned to football with the Las Vegas Lights earlier this year.