Former Chelsea left back Ashley Cole is looking to forward to a new life with Serie A runner-up Roma, and hopes to help the Giallorossi win their first Italian league title in more than decade.
Cole signed a two-year deal with Roma last week, and was presented with the team’s No. 3 shirt on Tuesday.
“I decided to come here because I want to keep playing in the Champions League,” Cole said. “I’m joining an ambitious club that has signed some very experienced players and I’m ready to fight for my place.”
The 33-year-old Cole spent the past eight seasons with Chelsea, and was with London rival Arsenal for the previous six years.
He’s the highest profile English player to come to Italy since David Beckham’s two loan spells with AC Milan in 2009 and 2010.
Cole says he believes English players are afraid of leaving their comfort zone and playing overseas.
“English players are probably afraid to come abroad, they’re in a comfort zone in England,” he told reporters.
“This is a chance for me to try a different language, culture and way of living.”
Cole’s contract with Chelsea expired at the end of last season and he realized that the London club’s manager, Jose Mourinho, wanted to take a new direction.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with (Mourinho). I understand that he was perhaps looking for something else and my time at Chelsea had come to an end,” Cole said. “As soon as I spoke to (Roma coach Rudi) Garcia and I saw how much they wanted me here at Roma I jumped at the chance. Hopefully we can do something special next season and win the league.”
Roma hasn’t won Serie A since 2001 but impressed last season with Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic, Gervinho and Mattia Destro providing big contributions, along with stalwarts Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti, who is set to begin his 23rd season with his hometown club.
On Monday, Roma introduced another notable veteran, former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita. And there is speculation that the American-owned club is going after striker Samuel Eto’o, who was released by Chelsea.
Files from Reuters were used in this report