Andrew Cole, or Andy Cole as he is better known, is a striker who helped set club football alight during his 20 year career (1988 to 2008), winning the biggest honours in the game.
Starting off his career at Arsenal in 1988 he only managed to make a solitary league appearance for ‘the Gunners’ before some goalscoring success whilst on loan, at then third division Fulham (3 goals in 13 games), saw him sold on to second tier Bristol City for half a million pounds.
20 goals in 41 appearances for Bristol City saw his services much sought after by clubs higher up in English football than Bristol City, and it was Newcastle United who won the battle to secure Cole’s signature, for then a club record fee of £1.75 million.
Cole’s time at Newcastle was nothing short of prolific. A run of 12 goals in as many games helped Newcastle secure promotion to the newly created Premier League.
In Newcastle United’s first season in the Premier League, under the stewardship of legendary manager Kevin Keegan, Andy Cole’s form didn’t just continue, it positively thrived. Partnered by Keegan with Geordie legend and strike partner Peter Beardsley, Cole grabbed all of the headline grabbing goals as his newly promoted side finished third in the table in their first season in the big time. Cole had scored 34 goals in 40 games, a phenomenal strike rate in any league, let alone against the best defences in the land.
The 1994/95 season started the same way for Cole, 9 goals in 18 appearances in the Premier League, goals in Europe – including taking the match ball after a hat-trick against Antwerp in the UEFA Cup – Cole was simply majestic in the black and white stripes of the exciting, attacking Geordie side.
Then, in a move in January 1995, mid-season, Cole left Manchester United for a British record transfer fee of £7 million (£6 million cash, plus £1 million in the value of Keith Gillespie who went the other way, from Manchester United to Newcastle).
Tyneside wept as their hero departed, but their fans no doubt look back on Cole’s time at the club fondly now. Non-stop goals, finishes that led to promotion to the Premier League and drove Newcastle on into European competition. It had been a short yet sweet stay and his 68 goals (in 94 games) will live long in the memory at St James Park.
Whilst Newcastle supporters licked their wounds at Cole’s departure, Manchester United’s fans perhaps did not realise just how good a player they had secured.
An unbelievable record
In 8 seasons at Manchester United, Andy Cole enjoyed a career that matches almost anyone in the game. 5 Premier League title wins. 2 FA Cup wins. A UEFA Champions League winners medal (who can forget that memorable, late, late show in Europe).
There are too many highlights to mention but his strike partners whilst at Manchester United were the crème de la crème of their day. An almost brotherhood was formed with Dwight York ‘Yorkie’ and their 53 combined goals in the historic Champions League winning season of 1998/1999 meant they kept the likes to Teddy Sheringham and Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer – legends in their own right – predominantly on the bench.
Another sign of Cole’s quality is highlighted by his attacking competition whilst at Manchester United. Aside from the aforementioned strikers, he also competed with the likes of Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy, always keeping pace with the competition. Cole was a genuinely, top class Premier League striker.
Cole finished at Manchester United with a total 93 goals in 195 games against England and Europe’s meanest defences.
As Cole’s time at Manchester United drew to a close, Blackburn Rovers swooped in. Advancing in years but still with a nose for goal, Cole did a solid job – averaging a goal every three games across 3 seasons and 87 appearances.
The following 4 seasons saw several moves taking in Fulham, Manchester City (controversial!) Portsmouth, Birmingham, Sunderland, Burnley and Nottingham Forest. Goals followed at all clubs (naturally) with the exception of Sunderland where he made just 7 appearances and Nottingham Forest, where he finished his career.
At International level, Cole enjoyed success, but matching his club feats were obviously several steps too far – as they would be for anyone, as Cole had experienced one of the most successful club careers ever seen.
Appearances for the Under 20’s, Under 21’s and B side were followed with 15 full International appearances for his country. A return of a solitary goal for Cole in his England career hurt his selection chances and he missed out on making the squad for the 1998 World Cup. Glenn Hoddle, then England manager, put effectively the final nail in the coffin of Cole’s international career by claiming he needed six or seven chances to score a single goal. Hoddle’s criticism was soon turned into terrace chant by rival fans and sadly for Cole, Hoddle’s word stuck long in the minds of those in the game.
Whilst he did not set the world alight at International level, his achievements, successes and goals scored at club level stand on par with almost any striker in the history of the game. Aside from club achievements, Andy Cole’s 187 goals scored in the Premier League put him third on the all-time list of Premier League goalscorers.
Andy Cole; goalscorer (and music) extraordinaire.