Ashley Cole insists he moved to Chelsea as the winning culture at Arsenal was “falling apart” despite claims he transferred across London for the money.
Cole began his career with Arsenal and, after a brief loan spell at Crystal Palace, went on to make more than 200 appearances for the Gunners, lifting the FA Cup three times and winning the Premier League twice.
He was a member of the “Invincibles” who went through the 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten, but left the club in acrimonious circumstances in 2006.
Cole was fined £100,000 – later reduced to £75,000 on appeal – for his part in an illegal approach from Chelsea in 2005, the club he would join for £5million the following year.
It was a move which angered Arsenal fans, who dubbed him “Cashley” after learning via his autobiography that Cole had “nearly swerved off the road” after being told by his agent that Arsenal were offering £55,000 per week in contract negotiations, compared to £90,000 from Chelsea.
“The transition in terms of being in a different group, environment and players was easy because at the time when I first started at Arsenal, we had a core – the Keowns, the Seamans, the Vieiras, the Henrys, the Adams’,” Cole told BBC Sport.
“When they started to leave, I felt there were holes in the culture of what it was that brought success. I just felt it was falling apart a bit, or there were gaps missing and they weren’t filled.
“So that transition in terms of finding myself in a different culture and the willingness and want to win, I went to Chelsea and I had that.”
His move to Chelsea caused controversy and when asked if he would have done anything differently, Cole added: “Yeah, I think when you look back, there were mistakes, for sure, on both sides.
“One hundred per cent, it’s not just entirely my fault and it’s not entirely their fault.
“I was probably a little bit too stubborn at the time and felt a little bit hard done by. I was a little bit babyish to be honest, but it’s something I won’t ever regret and I wouldn’t ever change that situation.
“It’s just something that happened. Maybe it was meant to be, who knows? But I definitely feel unjust about it because it wasn’t what people think in terms of money. It’s crazy, but that was probably the last thing on my mind.”
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