Joe Cole: Messi has had a better career than me

Matt Stead

Joe Cole has finally admitted that his career has not been quite as good as Lionel Messi’s. Sorry, Steven Gerrard.

Currently playing at Coventry City in League One, Cole, now 34, has enjoyed a fruitful career in the Premier League and France, as well as the England national team.

Upon joining Liverpool on a free transfer from Chelsea in 2010, Gerrard said of his new team-mate: “[Lionel] Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football.”

Cole scored two goals in 20 Premier League games that season.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, the midfielder has finally admitted that his career has not quite matched that of Messi, the five-time World Player of the Year, who has won 26 trophies during his time at Barcelona.

“If you’re comparing my career to Lionel Messi’s, it hasn’t been great,” Cole said. “If you’re comparing it to 99 per cent of footballers’ careers, it has been very good. I regret the injury, but I’ve been lucky – I’ve had a good career.”

Cole also admitted he harboured regrets over joining the Reds when he did. The former England international suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury playing for Chelsea in January 2009, something he believes he never truly recovered from.

“I feel my best years were robbed from me because of that injury. I was never quite the same player again,” Cole said. “I knew when I left Chelsea that I wasn’t as mobile as before. It was hard to get back to full confidence, which a player like me needs, and I kept picking up injuries. I still had some good moments, but really, truly, I should have gone abroad after Chelsea. The slower pace in France would have suited me after the injury. Liverpool was the right club at the wrong time.”