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Chelsea legend Joe Cole leaves Wayne Rooney out of the best XI he played with – but chooses Steven Gerrard and Eden Hazard

Joe Cole of Chelsea celebrates with Nicolas Anelka (L) as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge on August 17, 2008 in London, England.
(Image credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham star Joe Cole played with some of the greatest players of a generation. 

Cole broke through with the iconic West Ham side of the early noughties before moving across London and working under Jose Mourinho. The midfielder also turned out for the likes of Liverpool and Lille, also garnering over 50 caps for his country during the Three Lions' famed Golden Generation. 

FourFourTwo sat down with him to ask what a team of his best ever team-mates would look like. 

Former Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham star Joe Cole picks his Perfect XI

Joe Cole's Perfect XI

(Image credit: Future)

GK: David Seaman

“I remember watching Euro 96 as a kid, and Seaman was a hero of mine. Getting to come through the ranks and actually play with him for England was an honour. He was a terrific goalkeeper: great in the air and an excellent shot-stopper. A national treasure.”

RB: Paulo Ferreira

“Paulo is one of the most underrated players in Chelsea history – he was so secure in and out of possession. He never gave a pass away and could get stuck in as well. He had lovely hair, too – he looked like a movie star! He still does, come to think of it...”

CB: Rio Ferdinand

“On the right I’d have Rio. He and John Terry were extraordinary for England – defensively, Rio was top notch. He was elegant and calm with a ball at his feet, and had bags of pace. He was impossible to get past.”

CB: John Terry

“JT obviously gets in my team. The man was a leader, simple as that – dominant in the air and good with the ball. He was an old-school centre-half out of possession, but he could build play from the back as well as anyone.”

LB: Ashley Cole

“I played against Ashley so many times before I joined Chelsea and you’d never get any change out of him. Playing with him was brilliant, as he was constantly making runs forward; I played on the left wing a lot and he’d give you the option to drive inside. One of the all-time great left-backs.”

CM: Claude Makelele

“The governor. The main man. What a footballer. Makelele made that role in front of the back four his own. His short passing range rivalled the best players in the world – he’d always pick out a pass in space, even if it didn’t look like one was even on. And he did all of this with size six and a half feet. They were tiny!”

CM: Frank Lampard

“He guaranteed you goals and his longevity was incredible. Season after season, Frank did the business for club and country. To score so many goals from midfield is astonishing, and his Chelsea record may never be beaten.”

CM: Steven Gerrard

“Stevie was Roy of the Rovers, wasn’t he? He could do anything he wanted with a football and could play anywhere: full-back, midfield, upfront, probably even in goal! His tackling, passing, shooting and leadership skills were phenomenal. I think he’s the most complete player I ever played alongside.”

RW: Arjen Robben

“Arjen didn’t exactly have the best barnet in the world, but he’s got Paulo behind him so I’ve balanced it out! There was no one better at cutting in off the right wing and shooting with his left foot. We didn’t see him for long enough in the Premier League, because the demands of English football weren’t suited to him. Chelsea played a 4-1-4-1 system under Jose Mourinho, meaning he had to work hard defensively. He runs Eden Hazard a very close second in terms of ability, though.”

CF: Didier Drogba

“His hold-up play was just on another level – I saw him bully so many centre-halves. Didier [left] was a big-game player and nothing fazed him, but he saved that mentality for matchday. In training he was calm. He was a leader, and this team is full of them.”

LW: Eden Hazard

“I was at Lille with Eden – the most talented team-mate I ever had. He carried that side when he was only young, before moving to Chelsea and becoming the main man there too. It’s not worked out for him yet at Real Madrid, but he’s played over 700 games for club and country and in most of those people have kicked lumps out of him.”

Manager: Jose Mourinho

“Jose’s still a top boss and his record speaks for itself. I won four trophies with him at Chelsea. Don’t be surprised if he makes a big comeback at Roma and does something really special.”


Ricardo Carvalho

Wayne Rooney

Jermain Defoe

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Ed McCambridge
Ed McCambridge

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Key FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.