The news that we had signed Robin van Persie last summer took me back to almost 20 years ago when I found we’d bought Andy Cole. Having scored 41 goals in 45 games the season before for Newcastle and 15 goals in 27 games by January of 1994-1995, he was the most exciting striker in the league, and he was ours.
Cole spent seven years at the club, winning five league titles, two FA Cups and the European Cup, and ranks within the top 20 scores in the history of the club, with more goals than the likes of Ronaldo and Cantona.
The signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy meant Cole was no longer our star striker and at the age 30 decided to leave United. He played on for another seven years, representing eight different clubs, and scoring 70 goals, but the man who still has a season ticket at Old Trafford regrets not staying for longer.
“When I left the club, I wanted to play more games and I saw the manager numerous times,” Cole told the official website. “He told me that I didn’t have to go, he didn’t want me to go, I could have stayed for as long as I could and I would get my games. But I was trying to force myself into the World Cup squad. In the end, he just said ‘Okay, I understand and I know what you are like, I will let you go’. The crazy thing is that he sold me for £7million, which is more than what he paid for me. He got me for £6m and sold me for £7m. So I remember that last meeting with him like it was yesterday. I really enjoyed my time but I left far too early. That is my only regret. I could have stayed at the football club for a lot longer and, looking back, I wish I had. Just because you have won everything, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to win it again,” the Treble-winner explained. If I was what I am now – more relaxed and calculated in what I want to do – I would have thought about it and realised I would have played games and still be involved in 20 to 25 games a season and win a hell of a lot more, but it wasn’t to be.”
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.