Blackburn splashed out £8million to bring Andy Cole to Ewood Park on December 29, 2001.
The then 30-year-old had slipped down the pecking order at Manchester United following the arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy and sought pastures new after a seven-year stay at Old Trafford.
Cole said at a press conference on the day he signed: “It was a big decision. When you leave a club like Manchester United it’s always going to be a big decision.
“I am 30 and it’s very important that in the next few years I’m playing football. That’s all I want to do. I don’t enjoy being on the bench.
“I am really looking forward to playing here. I spoke at great length to the manager and at what he was looking to do at the club and that made my mind up.”
Graeme Souness’ side were struggling in the Premier League but eventually recovered to finish 10th and won the League Cup, with Cole netting 13 goals in 20 games.
One of those was the winner in the League Cup final against Tottenham, who were managed by Glenn Hoddle, a prominent critic of Cole.
Despite his good form, Cole was not selected for England’s squad for the 2002 World Cup and subsequently announced his international retirement.
Cole scored 13 goals the following season as Blackburn finished sixth and was reunited with his former United strike partner Dwight Yorke.
He finished the 2003/04 campaign as Rovers’ top scorer with 11 goals but the club struggled and Cole’s relationship with Souness deteriorated to the point where the striker reported his manager to the Professional Footballers’ Association, accusing him of unfair treatment.
Cole was allowed to leave on a free transfer that summer, signing for Fulham, after 37 goals in 100 games for Blackburn.
Souness, who branded Cole and Yorke “babies”, said: “It’s no secret that Cole and I didn’t see eye to eye in how I wanted football played and I think it was best for everyone that he went.”
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