sport

Cole: Villa is right challenge

Joe Cole admits to having snubbed lucrative offers from across the globe in favour of taking on a 'challenge' at Aston Villa.

Having dropped into the free agent pool at the end of his contract at West Ham United, Cole was able to dictate where his next move would take him.

As a proven Premier League performer with over 50 England caps to his name, there was no shortage of offers for him to consider.

Cole admits that, at the age of 32, he could have prioritised money and taken one more big pay day before hanging up his boots.

There is, however, a determination within the former Chelsea midfielder to prove that he is no spent force - after difficult spells at Liverpool and West Ham - and he hopes that Villa will provide the perfect stage on which to repair his reputation and enjoy future success.

Cole told The Daily Telegraph: "When I left West Ham, I had offers and interest from all over Europe and the world.

"I had meetings with clubs and they offered me massive contracts but I wasn’t ready to go and sit on a beach and pick up big money playing football that wouldn’t stimulate me.

"I could have made a fortune but I want to challenge myself. As soon as I spoke to the manager and had a look at Villa and what the club was about I fancied it.

"I’ve definitely taken a drop in money but it’s never been about that for me. Can I still do it at the top level and what can I do?

"I’m a competitor so there will always be unfinished business. Until I feel my legs can’t do it, when that day comes I’ll pack it in, but while I feel I’ve got something to offer I’ll always be competitive.

"Everyone says you haven’t got anything to prove, but you haven’t and you have.

"What I’ve done in my career will always be there but you want to add to it. You want more great days, to come to a club like Villa and maybe win an FA Cup or League Cup. Those days are the special days in football and you want more of them."

Cole is also eager to point out that he has not linked up with a club in turmoil, with there a positive vibe around Villa Park despite owner Randy Lerner’s desire to sell up.

He added: "I don’t see a club with problems.

"It’s common knowledge the owner wants to sell the club and there’s not been much business. But for me, looking at it from a football point of view, I see that the young players have had two tough seasons where they have survived, and they’re only going to get better.

"Then you have players like Benty [Darren Bent], Charles [N’Zogbia] and Hutts [Alan Hutton] coming back and obviously myself and other signings coming in. Hopefully with Villa, you want to do something with the group of players you’ve got and lift the club back up to as high as it can go."