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Andy Cole explains how being rejected by Arsenal helped kickstart his career

Andy Cole went on to become the third-highest scorer in Premier League history, with the majority of his 187 goals coming for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United

Yet Cole’s career began in north London for the Red Devils’ arch Premier League rivals Arsenal, but was restricted to just one league appearance for the Gunners in December 1990 and one Charity Shield runaround in 1991. 

He was then shipped out on loan to Fulham and Bristol City in the 1991/92 season, joining the latter permanently in the following season. 

In the May issue of FourFourTwo magazine, on sale now, Cole opens up about what leaving Arsenal meant for his career. 

“It just didn’t work out. I believed I was good enough to play for Arsenal at the time," he explains. 

“The manager didn’t think I was good enough so I went out on loan, then they chose to move me on. It was disappointing, but things worked out for me in a way I didn’t believe they would – my career blossomed after that.”

Andy Cole

After hitting double digits in his first six months in Bristol, Cole joined Newcastle United where he won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 before hitting 43 goals in 58 appearances for the Magpies in his first year-and-a-half as a regular top-flight player.

That caught the eye of United who signed him for £7 million in January 1995, making him the most expensive English player in history at that time. Here began a spell where he won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League as one of United’s key players in attack. 

Achieving so much success for Ferguson’s side made Arsenal rue their decision to let one of their bright academy products go so easily. 

Cole reckons his lack of success in north London was down to falling out with Gunners manager George Graham, but maintains that his failure to make the grade at Arsenal was a catalyst to a goal-laden career in the top-flight. 

On whether there was a character clash between him and the Arsenal manager, Cole added: “It could have been that – I had a personality clash with a lot of people during my career. 

“At the time, there were quite a few centre-forwards who George felt were better than me. I left, and that was definitely the thing that turned my career around and helped me to achieve what I achieved.

“It wasn’t a case of proving George wrong, it was a case of me proving to myself that I could play at the highest level.”

Read the full interview with Andy Cole in the May 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, available in shops and online from Wednesday April 1. Our new magazine looks at how Cristiano Ronaldo came to the brink of setting an all-time international goalscoring record, reveals the 50 best players in the EFL, looks back on Marco van Basten and Euro 88, brings you the inside story from Greece’s unlikely victory at Euro 2004, takes in the rise of Bruno Fernandes and the fall of Michel Platini, and discovers the background of Bucharest’s brutal derby. We also chat to Lukas Podolski, Ramires, Mickey Quinn and more.