Striker Andy Cole enjoyed spells at both Fulham and Bristol City. Alex Bowmer takes a look at his career …..
Known for being one of English football’s finest-ever strikers, Cole spent time with both the Robins and the Whites over the course of a 19-year career in the professional game.
Having started out at Arsenal, it became clear that his chances with the Gunners would be limited and a loan move to Craven Cottage gave him his first taste of regular first-team football. After appearing 13 times and scoring three goals for the Whites, he was snapped by today’s opponents on a permanent basis, and it was at Ashton Gate where his career really took off.
Despite only staying for a year, he bagged 20 goals, which then netted him a move to Newcastle United in February 1993. His elusive runs and unerring ability in front of goal were instrumental in helping the Magpies secure promotion to the recently-created Premier League, as he formed a fearsome partnership during the latter stages of the season with David Kelly.
Despite stepping up a division, Cole’s scoring rate the following season actually improved. Peter Beardsley was the Nottingham-born marksman’s new strike partner and together they fired Newcastle to third place and a UEFA Cup spot, with Cole contributing 34 goals in the league and winning the Premier League Golden Boot in the process. The first half of his second season in the Premier League was not quite as prolific, but he had done enough to impress Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, who purchased him for what was then a British record transfer fee of £7m in January 1995. On 4 March that year, he became the first player to score five goals in a Premier League match, as the Red Devils trounced Ipswich 9-0.
His time at the club coincided with United’s domination of the English game. He won the league in five of his six full seasons and was part of the famous treble-winning side of 1998-1999. By late 2001, his star was beginning to wane and he was replaced at the head of United’s attack by Ruud van Nistelrooy. However, Graeme Souness was interested in obtaining his services, so Cole moved to Blackburn in 2001. Despite not being blessed with such a creative midfield at the Lancashire club, the Englishman fired his new club to League Cup glory, netting the winner against Tottenham to silence any possible doubts about his ability to still perform on the big stage. Rovers secured European qualification the following season with Cole partnering former United striker Dwight Yorke. However, the club’s sojourn on the continent was unsuccessful and although Cole got into double figures for a league season yet again, a falling out with Souness spelt the end for him at Ewood Park.
Fulham were happy to welcome him back to Craven Cottage in 2004, 13 years after his brief loan spell in SW6. He was still scoring a goal every three games, but his contract expired at the end of the season and he moved on to Man City. After this, regular first-team opportunities were harder to come by, and a succession of short-term spells followed. He decided to hang up his boots in 2008, aged 37. His club career saw him play an incredible 624 games and score 271 goals. Despite going down as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats, he did not fare as well on the international stage, where he received 15 caps for the Three Lions, scoring a solitary goal. Despite this blot on his copybook, he will long be remembered as one of the most potent players of his generation.
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