'I don't think anyone else can achieve this again' - former Manchester United forward Andy Cole on Sir Alex Ferguson

In an exclusive interview with Goal.com Singapore, the Man United legend recalled his fondest memories of his football career while tipping his former side to win the title
By Kenneth Tan

Being the second-highest goalscorer in English Premier League history and being one of the few players to have swept all possible accolades in the English game, Andrew Alexander Cole - better known as Andy Cole remained surprisingly grounded about his achievements and showed no airs when he spoke to Goal.com Singapore.

Cole was in Singapore to promote the Manchester United Soccer School program in Singapore.

"Playing in the Premier League's a fantastic thing for me," he enthused.

"It's always my boyhood dream to play at the highest level. When you're a kid growing up in England, everyone wants to play football and be a professional player. However you never ever believe that you're going to make it there no matter how good you think you're going to be.

"I count myself fortunate to play for a great club like Newcastle United and definitely an amazing club like Manchester United.

"I do look back now at my time in the Premier League with fond memories, it's something special I will treasure for the rest of my life."

A career spanning 19 years - plying his trade for clubs like Newcastle, Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, there is little doubt that his most memorable time was the six-year stint at Manchester United.

93 goals in 195 appearances in the iconic Red Devils shirt from 1995 to 2001, not to least to say numerous trophies won with the club - the now 41-year-old has already written his own name into Manchester folkfore alongside other greats and legends like Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Denis Irwin.

"Yeah, I've gone there and achieved everything possible - I've won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the European Cup," he recalled fondly.

"When you're growing up as a kid watching this football club on TV, you think to yourself 'I'll love to play for them, one day I want to be good enough to do that'.

"When you actually achieve it, you don't actually realise until you retire. Then you'll look back and think how fortunate you've been to be able to do things that you didn't expect to achieve.

It's beyond my wildest dreams to score in front of 70,000 people. To a certain extent, it's surreal."

Of course there was no doubt about who his best strike partner was. Three hugely successful seasons playing alongside each other, not least to say achieving the ultimate Treble dream in their first year together - his partnership with Dwight Yorke was brief yet memorable.

"It's a great partnership," he admitted.

"That's not just for me personally but also for the club. That partnership still always gets talked about now.

"I believe not just at Man Utd, but also at other clubs in the Premier League, they will love to have that kind of (strike) partnership that will score many goals, bring entertainment to the fans, gain opportunity to win things.

"For me to be involved in such a partnership, especially in such a great campaign in which we won the Treble, it's something very special indeed."

Leaving Old Trafford in 2001 following the arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, his career arguably did not hit those dizzy heights as before. Brief stints at Blackburn, Fulham, Man City, Portsmouth, Sunderland soon followed before he duly retired in 2008.

11 years have since passed since he last wore a Red Devils shirt in a competitive game but he remains a big fan of the club.

So far the season has been going fine for the club, with new recruit Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney slowly gelling to form a reliable attacking duo just like his former axis with Yorke.

"Yeah, the current team's very good!" he exclaimed.

"Look at the position we're in now - at the top of the table. After losing out on last season's title by a goal, it must be very disappointing.

"That's why the manager decided to bring in a player like Van Persie who hopefully will eradicate the situation when we're losing by a goal.  The way he started the season with Wayne getting back amongst the goals, also with Danny Welbeck and Chicharito scoring as well, the team's playing some good football now,"

With Sir Alex Ferguson recently celebrating his 26 years in charge of the club, Cole took the opportunity to pay tribute to his former manager.

"He's a tremendous manager. For any manager to manage at this level for such a long time is no mean feat, I don't think anyone else can achieve this again. It's really a great honour to play for him," he said without hesitation.

"He's just so driven. Whatever he has brought and done for the football club, he is certainly leaving the club in great hands.

When asked to name which candidate he felt was a suitable successor to Fergie, the 41-year-old was uncharacteristically uncertain, unlike his form in front of goal in his heydays.

"That's very tough!" was his frank reply.

"I really don't know who I have in mind. No doubt there will be alot of people putting their names forward for this job, but we have to wait and see when he decides to retire before deciding who will be good enough to take over."

*Andy Cole is in Singapore on invitation from Kirkwall Sports Pte Ltd, the company responsible for organising the NexLions Cup to be held in December.